Staggering amid the crush, Pierre looked about him.
“Count Peter Kirílovich! How did you get here?” said a voice.
Pierre looked round. Borís Drubetskóy, brushing his knees with his hand (he had probably soiled them when he, too, had knelt before the icon), came up to him smiling. Borís was elegantly dressed, with a slightly martial touch appropriate to a campaign. He wore a long coat and like Kutúzov had a whip slung across his shoulder.
Meanwhile Kutúzov had reached the village and seated himself in the shade of the nearest house, on a bench which one Cossack had run to fetch and another had hastily covered with a rug. An immense and brilliant suite surrounded him.
The icon was carried further, accompanied by the throng. Pierre stopped some thirty paces from Kutúzov, talking to Borís.
He explained his wish to be present at the battle and to see the position.
“This is what you must do,” said Borís. “I will do the honors of the camp to you. You will see everything best from where Count Bennigsen will be. I am in attendance on him, you know; I’ll mention it to him. But if you want to ride round the position, come along with us. We are just going to the left flank. Then when we get back, do spend the night with me and we’ll arrange a game of cards. Of course you know Dmítri Sergéevich? Those are his quarters,” and he pointed to the third house in the village of Górki.
“But I should like to see the right flank. They say it’s very strong,” said Pierre. “I should like to start from the Moskvá River and ride round the whole position.”
“Well, you can do that later, but the chief thing is the left flank.”
“Yes, yes. But where is Prince Bolkónski’s regiment? Can you point it out to me?”
“Prince Andrew’s? We shall pass it and I’ll take you to him.”
“What about the left flank?” asked Pierre
“To tell you the truth, between ourselves, God only knows what state our left flank is in,” said Borís confidentially lowering his voice. “It is not at all what Count Bennigsen intended. He meant to fortify that knoll quite differently, but...” Borís shrugged his shoulders, “his Serene Highness would not have it, or someone persuaded him. You see...” but Borís did not finish, for at that moment Kaysárov, Kutúzov’s adjutant, came up to Pierre. “Ah, Kaysárov!” said Borís, addressing him with an unembarrassed smile, “I was just trying to explain our position to the count. It is amazing how his Serene Highness could so foresee the intentions of the French!”
“You mean the left flank?” asked Kaysárov.
“Yes, exactly; the left flank is now extremely strong.”
Though Kutúzov had dismissed all unnecessary men from the staff, Borís had contrived to remain at headquarters after the changes. He had established himself with Count Bennigsen, who, like all on whom Borís had been in attendance, considered young Prince Drubetskóy an invaluable man.
In the higher command there were two sharply defined parties: Kutúzov’s party and that of Bennigsen, the chief of staff. Borís belonged to the latter and no one else, while showing servile respect to Kutúzov, could so create an impression that the old fellow was not much good and that Bennigsen managed everything. Now the decisive moment of battle had come when Kutúzov would be destroyed and the power pass to Bennigsen, or even if Kutúzov won the battle it would be felt that everything was done by Bennigsen. In any case many great rewards would have to be given for tomorrow’s action, and new men would come to the front. So Borís was full of nervous vivacity all day.
After Kaysárov, others whom Pierre knew came up to him, and he had not time to reply to all the questions about Moscow that were showered upon him, or to listen to all that was told him. The faces all expressed animation and apprehension, but it seemed to Pierre that the cause of the excitement shown in some of these faces lay chiefly in questions of personal success; his mind, however, was occupied by the different expression he saw on other faces—an expression that spoke not of personal matters but of the universal questions of life and death. Kutúzov noticed Pierre’s figure and the group gathered round him.
“Call him to me,” said Kutúzov.
An adjutant told Pierre of his Serene Highness’ wish, and Pierre went toward Kutúzov’s bench. But a militiaman got there before him. It was Dólokhov.
“How did that fellow get here?” asked Pierre.
“He’s a creature that wriggles in anywhere!” was the answer. “He has been degraded, you know. Now he wants to bob up again. He’s been proposing some scheme or other and has crawled into the enemy’s picket line at night.... He’s a brave fellow.”
Pierre took off his hat and bowed respectfully to Kutúzov.
“I concluded that if I reported to your Serene Highness you might send me away or say that you knew what I was reporting, but then I shouldn’t lose anything...” Dólokhov was saying.
“But if I were right, I should be rendering a service to my Fatherland for which I am ready to die.”
“And should your Serene Highness require a man who will not spare his skin, please think of me.... Perhaps I may prove useful to your Serene Highness.”
“Yes... Yes...” Kutúzov repeated, his laughing eye narrowing more and more as he looked at Pierre.
Just then Borís, with his courtierlike adroitness, stepped up to Pierre’s side near Kutúzov and in a most natural manner, without raising his voice, said to Pierre, as though continuing an interrupted conversation:
“The militia have put on clean white shirts to be ready to die. What heroism, Count!”
Borís evidently said this to Pierre in order to be overheard by his Serene Highness. He knew Kutúzov’s attention would be caught by those words, and so it was.
“What are you saying about the militia?” he asked Borís.
“Preparing for tomorrow, your Serene Highness—for death—they have put on clean shirts.”
“Ah... a wonderful, a matchless people!” said Kutúzov; and he closed his eyes and swayed his head. “A matchless people!” he repeated with a sigh.
“So you want to smell gunpowder?” he said to Pierre. “Yes, it’s a pleasant smell. I have the honor to be one of your wife’s adorers. Is she well? My quarters are at your service.”
And as often happens with old people, Kutúzov began looking about absent-mindedly as if forgetting all he wanted to say or do.
Then, evidently remembering what he wanted, he beckoned to Andrew Kaysárov, his adjutant’s brother.
“Those verses... those verses of Márin’s... how do they go, eh? Those he wrote about Gerákov: ‘Lectures for the corps inditing’... Recite them, recite them!” said he, evidently preparing to laugh.
Kaysárov recited.... Kutúzov smilingly nodded his head to the rhythm of the verses.
When Pierre had left Kutúzov, Dólokhov came up to him and took his hand.
“I am very glad to meet you here, Count,” he said aloud, regardless of the presence of strangers and in a particularly resolute and solemn tone. “On the eve of a day when God alone knows who of us is fated to survive, I am glad of this opportunity to tell you that I regret the misunderstandings that occurred between us and should wish you not to have any ill feeling for me. I beg you to forgive me.”
Pierre looked at Dólokhov with a smile, not knowing what to say to him. With tears in his eyes Dólokhov embraced Pierre and kissed him.
Borís said a few words to his general, and Count Bennigsen turned to Pierre and proposed that he should ride with him along the line.
“It will interest you,” said he.
“Yes, very much,” replied Pierre.
Half an hour later Kutúzov left for Tatárinova, and Bennigsen and his suite, with Pierre among them, set out on their ride along the line.
From Górki, Bennigsen descended the highroad to the bridge which, when they had looked at it from the hill, the officer had pointed out as being the center of our position and where rows of fragrant new-mown hay lay by the riverside. They rode across that bridge into the village of Borodinó and thence turned to the left, passing an enormous number of troops and guns, and came to a high knoll where militiamen were digging. This was the redoubt, as yet unnamed, which afterwards became known as the Raévski Redoubt, or the Knoll Battery, but Pierre paid no special attention to it. He did not know that it would become more memorable to him than any other spot on the plain of Borodinó.
They then crossed the hollow to Semënovsk, where the soldiers were dragging away the last logs from the huts and barns. Then they rode downhill and uphill, across a ryefield trodden and beaten down as if by hail, following a track freshly made by the artillery over the furrows of the plowed land, and reached some flèches * which were still being dug.
At the flèches Bennigsen stopped and began looking at the Shevárdino Redoubt opposite, which had been ours the day before and where several horsemen could be descried. The officers said that either Napoleon or Murat was there, and they all gazed eagerly at this little group of horsemen. Pierre also looked at them, trying to guess which of the scarcely discernible figures was Napoleon. At last those mounted men rode away from the mound and disappeared.
Bennigsen spoke to a general who approached him, and began explaining the whole position of our troops. Pierre listened to him, straining each faculty to understand the essential points of the impending battle, but was mortified to feel that his mental capacity was inadequate for the task. He could make nothing of it. Bennigsen stopped speaking and, noticing that Pierre was listening, suddenly said to him:
“I don’t think this interests you?”
“On the contrary it’s very interesting!” replied Pierre not quite truthfully.
From the flèches they rode still farther to the left, along a road winding through a thick, low-growing birch wood. In the middle of the wood a brown hare with white feet sprang out and, scared by the tramp of the many horses, grew so confused that it leaped along the road in front of them for some time, arousing general attention and laughter, and only when several voices shouted at it did it dart to one side and disappear in the thicket. After going through the wood for about a mile and a half they came out on a glade where troops of Túchkov’s corps were stationed to defend the left flank.
Here, at the extreme left flank, Bennigsen talked a great deal and with much heat, and, as it seemed to Pierre, gave orders of great military importance. In front of Túchkov’s troops was some high ground not occupied by troops. Bennigsen loudly criticized this mistake, saying that it was madness to leave a height which commanded the country around unoccupied and to place troops below it. Some of the generals expressed the same opinion. One in particular declared with martial heat that they were put there to be slaughtered. Bennigsen on his own authority ordered the troops to occupy the high ground. This disposition on the left flank increased Pierre’s doubt of his own capacity to understand military matters. Listening to Bennigsen and the generals criticizing the position of the troops behind the hill, he quite understood them and shared their opinion, but for that very reason he could not understand how the man who put them there behind the hill could have made so gross and palpable a blunder.
Pierre did not know that these troops were not, as Bennigsen supposed, put there to defend the position, but were in a concealed position as an ambush, that they should not be seen and might be able to strike an approaching enemy unexpectedly. Bennigsen did not know this and moved the troops forward according to his own ideas without mentioning the matter to the commander in chief.
On that bright evening of August 25, Prince Andrew lay leaning on his elbow in a broken-down shed in the village of Knyazkóvo at the further end of his regiment’s encampment. Through a gap in the broken wall he could see, beside the wooden fence, a row of thirty-year-old birches with their lower branches lopped off, a field on which shocks of oats were standing, and some bushes near which rose the smoke of campfires—the soldiers’ kitchens.
Narrow and burdensome and useless to anyone as his life now seemed to him, Prince Andrew on the eve of battle felt agitated and irritable as he had done seven years before at Austerlitz.
He had received and given the orders for next day’s battle and had nothing more to do. But his thoughts—the simplest, clearest, and therefore most terrible thoughts—would give him no peace. He knew that tomorrow’s battle would be the most terrible of all he had taken part in, and for the first time in his life the possibility of death presented itself to him—not in relation to any worldly matter or with reference to its effect on others, but simply in relation to himself, to his own soul—vividly, plainly, terribly, and almost as a certainty. And from the height of this perception all that had previously tormented and preoccupied him suddenly became illumined by a cold white light without shadows, without perspective, without distinction of outline. All life appeared to him like magic-lantern pictures at which he had long been gazing by artificial light through a glass. Now he suddenly saw those badly daubed pictures in clear daylight and without a glass. “Yes, yes! There they are, those false images that agitated, enraptured, and tormented me,” said he to himself, passing in review the principal pictures of the magic lantern of life and regarding them now in the cold white daylight of his clear perception of death. “There they are, those rudely painted figures that once seemed splendid and mysterious. Glory, the good of society, love of a woman, the Fatherland itself—how important these pictures appeared to me, with what profound meaning they seemed to be filled! And it is all so simple, pale, and crude in the cold white light of this morning which I feel is dawning for me.” The three great sorrows of his life held his attention in particular: his love for a woman, his father’s death, and the French invasion which had overrun half Russia. “Love... that little girl who seemed to me brimming over with mystic forces! Yes, indeed, I loved her. I made romantic plans of love and happiness with her! Oh, what a boy I was!” he said aloud bitterly. “Ah me! I believed in some ideal love which was to keep her faithful to me for the whole year of my absence! Like the gentle dove in the fable she was to pine apart from me.... But it was much simpler really.... It was all very simple and horrible.”
“When my father built Bald Hills he thought the place was his: his land, his air, his peasants. But Napoleon came and swept him aside, unconscious of his existence, as he might brush a chip from his path, and his Bald Hills and his whole life fell to pieces. Princess Mary says it is a trial sent from above. What is the trial for, when he is not here and will never return? He is not here! For whom then is the trial intended? The Fatherland, the destruction of Moscow! And tomorrow I shall be killed, perhaps not even by a Frenchman but by one of our own men, by a soldier discharging a musket close to my ear as one of them did yesterday, and the French will come and take me by head and heels and fling me into a hole that I may not stink under their noses, and new conditions of life will arise, which will seem quite ordinary to others and about which I shall know nothing. I shall not exist....”
He looked at the row of birches shining in the sunshine, with their motionless green and yellow foliage and white bark. “To die... to be killed tomorrow... That I should not exist... That all this should still be, but no me....”
And the birches with their light and shade, the curly clouds, the smoke of the campfires, and all that was around him changed and seemed terrible and menacing. A cold shiver ran down his spine. He rose quickly, went out of the shed, and began to walk about.
After he had returned, voices were heard outside the shed. “Who’s that?” he cried.
The red-nosed Captain Timókhin, formerly Dólokhov’s squadron commander, but now from lack of officers a battalion commander, shyly entered the shed followed by an adjutant and the regimental paymaster.
Prince Andrew rose hastily, listened to the business they had come about, gave them some further instructions, and was about to dismiss them when he heard a familiar, lisping, voice behind the shed.
“Devil take it!” said the voice of a man stumbling over something.
Prince Andrew looked out of the shed and saw Pierre, who had tripped over a pole on the ground and had nearly fallen, coming his way. It was unpleasant to Prince Andrew to meet people of his own set in general, and Pierre especially, for he reminded him of all the painful moments of his last visit to Moscow.
“You? What a surprise!” said he. “What brings you here? This is unexpected!”
As he said this his eyes and face expressed more than coldness—they expressed hostility, which Pierre noticed at once. He had approached the shed full of animation, but on seeing Prince Andrew’s face he felt constrained and ill at ease.
“I have come... simply... you know... come... it interests me,” said Pierre, who had so often that day senselessly repeated that word “interesting.” “I wish to see the battle.”
“Oh yes, and what do the Masonic brothers say about war? How would they stop it?” said Prince Andrew sarcastically. “Well, and how’s Moscow? And my people? Have they reached Moscow at last?” he asked seriously.
“Yes, they have. Julie Drubetskáya told me so. I went to see them, but missed them. They have gone to your estate near Moscow.”
The officers were about to take leave, but Prince Andrew, apparently reluctant to be left alone with his friend, asked them to stay and have tea. Seats were brought in and so was the tea. The officers gazed with surprise at Pierre’s huge stout figure and listened to his talk of Moscow and the position of our army, round which he had ridden. Prince Andrew remained silent, and his expression was so forbidding that Pierre addressed his remarks chiefly to the good-natured battalion commander.
“So you understand the whole position of our troops?” Prince Andrew interrupted him.
“Yes—that is, how do you mean?” said Pierre. “Not being a military man I can’t say I have understood it fully, but I understand the general position.”
“Well, then, you know more than anyone else, be it who it may,” said Prince Andrew.
“Oh!” said Pierre, looking over his spectacles in perplexity at Prince Andrew. “Well, and what do you think of Kutúzov’s appointment?” he asked.
“I was very glad of his appointment, that’s all I know,” replied Prince Andrew.
“And tell me your opinion of Barclay de Tolly. In Moscow they are saying heaven knows what about him.... What do you think of him?”
“Ask them,” replied Prince Andrew, indicating the officers.
Pierre looked at Timókhin with the condescendingly interrogative smile with which everybody involuntarily addressed that officer.
“We see light again, since his Serenity has been appointed, your excellency,” said Timókhin timidly, and continually turning to glance at his colonel.
“Why so?” asked Pierre.
“Well, to mention only firewood and fodder, let me inform you. Why, when we were retreating from Sventsyáni we dare not touch a stick or a wisp of hay or anything. You see, we were going away, so he would get it all; wasn’t it so, your excellency?” and again Timókhin turned to the prince. “But we daren’t. In our regiment two officers were court-martialed for that kind of thing. But when his Serenity took command everything became straightforward. Now we see light....”
“Then why was it forbidden?”
Timókhin looked about in confusion, not knowing what or how to answer such a question. Pierre put the same question to Prince Andrew.
“Why, so as not to lay waste the country we were abandoning to the enemy,” said Prince Andrew with venomous irony. “It is very sound: one can’t permit the land to be pillaged and accustom the troops to marauding. At Smolénsk too he judged correctly that the French might outflank us, as they had larger forces. But he could not understand this,” cried Prince Andrew in a shrill voice that seemed to escape him involuntarily: “he could not understand that there, for the first time, we were fighting for Russian soil, and that there was a spirit in the men such as I had never seen before, that we had held the French for two days, and that that success had increased our strength tenfold. He ordered us to retreat, and all our efforts and losses went for nothing. He had no thought of betraying us, he tried to do the best he could, he thought out everything, and that is why he is unsuitable. He is unsuitable now, just because he plans out everything very thoroughly and accurately as every German has to. How can I explain?... Well, say your father has a German valet, and he is a splendid valet and satisfies your father’s requirements better than you could, then it’s all right to let him serve. But if your father is mortally sick you’ll send the valet away and attend to your father with your own unpracticed, awkward hands, and will soothe him better than a skilled man who is a stranger could. So it has been with Barclay. While Russia was well, a foreigner could serve her and be a splendid minister; but as soon as she is in danger she needs one of her own kin. But in your Club they have been making him out a traitor! They slander him as a traitor, and the only result will be that afterwards, ashamed of their false accusations, they will make him out a hero or a genius instead of a traitor, and that will be still more unjust. He is an honest and very punctilious German.”
“And they say he’s a skillful commander,” rejoined Pierre.
“I don’t understand what is meant by ‘a skillful commander,’” replied Prince Andrew ironically.
“A skillful commander?” replied Pierre. “Why, one who foresees all contingencies... and foresees the adversary’s intentions.”
“But that’s impossible,” said Prince Andrew as if it were a matter settled long ago.
Pierre looked at him in surprise.
“And yet they say that war is like a game of chess?” he remarked.
“Yes,” replied Prince Andrew, “but with this little difference, that in chess you may think over each move as long as you please and are not limited for time, and with this difference too, that a knight is always stronger than a pawn, and two pawns are always stronger than one, while in war a battalion is sometimes stronger than a division and sometimes weaker than a company. The relative strength of bodies of troops can never be known to anyone. Believe me,” he went on, “if things depended on arrangements made by the staff, I should be there making arrangements, but instead of that I have the honor to serve here in the regiment with these gentlemen, and I consider that on us tomorrow’s battle will depend and not on those others.... Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position.”
“But on what then?”
“On the feeling that is in me and in him,” he pointed to Timókhin, “and in each soldier.”
Prince Andrew glanced at Timókhin, who looked at his commander in alarm and bewilderment. In contrast to his former reticent taciturnity Prince Andrew now seemed excited. He could apparently not refrain from expressing the thoughts that had suddenly occurred to him.
“A battle is won by those who firmly resolve to win it! Why did we lose the battle at Austerlitz? The French losses were almost equal to ours, but very early we said to ourselves that we were losing the battle, and we did lose it. And we said so because we had nothing to fight for there, we wanted to get away from the battlefield as soon as we could. ‘We’ve lost, so let us run,’ and we ran. If we had not said that till the evening, heaven knows what might not have happened. But tomorrow we shan’t say it! You talk about our position, the left flank weak and the right flank too extended,” he went on. “That’s all nonsense, there’s nothing of the kind. But what awaits us tomorrow? A hundred million most diverse chances which will be decided on the instant by the fact that our men or theirs run or do not run, and that this man or that man is killed, but all that is being done at present is only play. The fact is that those men with whom you have ridden round the position not only do not help matters, but hinder. They are only concerned with their own petty interests.”
“At such a moment?” said Pierre reproachfully.
“At such a moment!” Prince Andrew repeated. “To them it is only a moment affording opportunities to undermine a rival and obtain an extra cross or ribbon. For me tomorrow means this: a Russian army of a hundred thousand and a French army of a hundred thousand have met to fight, and the thing is that these two hundred thousand men will fight and the side that fights more fiercely and spares itself least will win. And if you like I will tell you that whatever happens and whatever muddles those at the top may make, we shall win tomorrow’s battle. Tomorrow, happen what may, we shall win!”
“There now, your excellency! That’s the truth, the real truth,” said Timókhin. “Who would spare himself now? The soldiers in my battalion, believe me, wouldn’t drink their vodka! ‘It’s not the day for that!’ they say.”
All were silent. The officers rose. Prince Andrew went out of the shed with them, giving final orders to the adjutant. After they had gone Pierre approached Prince Andrew and was about to start a conversation when they heard the clatter of three horses’ hoofs on the road not far from the shed, and looking in that direction Prince Andrew recognized Wolzogen and Clausewitz accompanied by a Cossack. They rode close by continuing to converse, and Prince Andrew involuntarily heard these words:
“Der Krieg muss in Raum verlegt werden. Der Ansicht kann ich nicht genug Preis geben,” * said one of them.
commend that view.”
“Oh, ja,” said the other, “der Zweck ist nur den Feind zu schwächen, so kann man gewiss nicht den Verlust der Privat-Personen in Achtung nehmen.” *
course one cannot take into account the loss of private
“Oh, no,” agreed the other.
“Extend widely!” said Prince Andrew with an angry snort, when they had ridden past. “In that ‘extend’ were my father, son, and sister, at Bald Hills. That’s all the same to him! That’s what I was saying to you—those German gentlemen won’t win the battle tomorrow but will only make all the mess they can, because they have nothing in their German heads but theories not worth an empty eggshell and haven’t in their hearts the one thing needed tomorrow—that which Timókhin has. They have yielded up all Europe to him, and have now come to teach us. Fine teachers!” and again his voice grew shrill.
“So you think we shall win tomorrow’s battle?” asked Pierre.
“Yes, yes,” answered Prince Andrew absently. “One thing I would do if I had the power,” he began again, “I would not take prisoners. Why take prisoners? It’s chivalry! The French have destroyed my home and are on their way to destroy Moscow, they have outraged and are outraging me every moment. They are my enemies. In my opinion they are all criminals. And so thinks Timókhin and the whole army. They should be executed! Since they are my foes they cannot be my friends, whatever may have been said at Tilsit.”
“Yes, yes,” muttered Pierre, looking with shining eyes at Prince Andrew. “I quite agree with you!”
The question that had perturbed Pierre on the Mozháysk hill and all that day now seemed to him quite clear and completely solved. He now understood the whole meaning and importance of this war and of the impending battle. All he had seen that day, all the significant and stern expressions on the faces he had seen in passing, were lit up for him by a new light. He understood that latent heat (as they say in physics) of patriotism which was present in all these men he had seen, and this explained to him why they all prepared for death calmly, and as it were lightheartedly.
“Not take prisoners,” Prince Andrew continued: “That by itself would quite change the whole war and make it less cruel. As it is we have played at war—that’s what’s vile! We play at magnanimity and all that stuff. Such magnanimity and sensibility are like the magnanimity and sensibility of a lady who faints when she sees a calf being killed: she is so kindhearted that she can’t look at blood, but enjoys eating the calf served up with sauce. They talk to us of the rules of war, of chivalry, of flags of truce, of mercy to the unfortunate and so on. It’s all rubbish! I saw chivalry and flags of truce in 1805; they humbugged us and we humbugged them. They plunder other people’s houses, issue false paper money, and worst of all they kill my children and my father, and then talk of rules of war and magnanimity to foes! Take no prisoners, but kill and be killed! He who has come to this as I have through the same sufferings...”
Prince Andrew, who had thought it was all the same to him whether or not Moscow was taken as Smolénsk had been, was suddenly checked in his speech by an unexpected cramp in his throat. He paced up and down a few times in silence, but his eyes glittered feverishly and his lips quivered as he began speaking.
“If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we should go to war only when it was worth while going to certain death, as now. Then there would not be war because Paul Ivánovich had offended Michael Ivánovich. And when there was a war, like this one, it would be war! And then the determination of the troops would be quite different. Then all these Westphalians and Hessians whom Napoleon is leading would not follow him into Russia, and we should not go to fight in Austria and Prussia without knowing why. War is not courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous. The military calling is the most highly honored.
“But what is war? What is needed for success in warfare? What are the habits of the military? The aim of war is murder; the methods of war are spying, treachery, and their encouragement, the ruin of a country’s inhabitants, robbing them or stealing to provision the army, and fraud and falsehood termed military craft. The habits of the military class are the absence of freedom, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in spite of all this it is the highest class, respected by everyone. All the kings, except the Chinese, wear military uniforms, and he who kills most people receives the highest rewards.
“They meet, as we shall meet tomorrow, to murder one another; they kill and maim tens of thousands, and then have thanksgiving services for having killed so many people (they even exaggerate the number), and they announce a victory, supposing that the more people they have killed the greater their achievement. How does God above look at them and hear them?” exclaimed Prince Andrew in a shrill, piercing voice. “Ah, my friend, it has of late become hard for me to live. I see that I have begun to understand too much. And it doesn’t do for man to taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.... Ah, well, it’s not for long!” he added.
“However, you’re sleepy, and it’s time for me to sleep. Go back to Górki!” said Prince Andrew suddenly.
“Oh no!” Pierre replied, looking at Prince Andrew with frightened, compassionate eyes.
“Go, go! Before a battle one must have one’s sleep out,” repeated Prince Andrew.
He came quickly up to Pierre and embraced and kissed him. “Good-by, be off!” he shouted. “Whether we meet again or not...” and turning away hurriedly he entered the shed.
It was already dark, and Pierre could not make out whether the expression of Prince Andrew’s face was angry or tender.
For some time he stood in silence considering whether he should follow him or go away. “No, he does not want it!” Pierre concluded. “And I know that this is our last meeting!” He sighed deeply and rode back to Górki.
On re-entering the shed Prince Andrew lay down on a rug, but he could not sleep.
He closed his eyes. One picture succeeded another in his imagination. On one of them he dwelt long and joyfully. He vividly recalled an evening in Petersburg. Natásha with animated and excited face was telling him how she had gone to look for mushrooms the previous summer and had lost her way in the big forest. She incoherently described the depths of the forest, her feelings, and a talk with a beekeeper she met, and constantly interrupted her story to say: “No, I can’t! I’m not telling it right; no, you don’t understand,” though he encouraged her by saying that he did understand, and he really had understood all she wanted to say. But Natásha was not satisfied with her own words: she felt that they did not convey the passionately poetic feeling she had experienced that day and wished to convey. “He was such a delightful old man, and it was so dark in the forest... and he had such kind... No, I can’t describe it,” she had said, flushed and excited. Prince Andrew smiled now the same happy smile as then when he had looked into her eyes. “I understood her,” he thought. “I not only understood her, but it was just that inner, spiritual force, that sincerity, that frankness of soul—that very soul of hers which seemed to be fettered by her body—it was that soul I loved in her... loved so strongly and happily...” and suddenly he remembered how his love had ended. “He did not need anything of that kind. He neither saw nor understood anything of the sort. He only saw in her a pretty and fresh young girl, with whom he did not deign to unite his fate. And I?... and he is still alive and gay!”
Prince Andrew jumped up as if someone had burned him, and again began pacing up and down in front of the shed.
On August 25, the eve of the battle of Borodinó, M. de Beausset, prefect of the French Emperor’s palace, arrived at Napoleon’s quarters at Valúevo with Colonel Fabvier, the former from Paris and the latter from Madrid.
Donning his court uniform, M. de Beausset ordered a box he had brought for the Emperor to be carried before him and entered the first compartment of Napoleon’s tent, where he began opening the box while conversing with Napoleon’s aides-de-camp who surrounded him.
Fabvier, not entering the tent, remained at the entrance talking to some generals of his acquaintance.
The Emperor Napoleon had not yet left his bedroom and was finishing his toilet. Slightly snorting and grunting, he presented now his back and now his plump hairy chest to the brush with which his valet was rubbing him down. Another valet, with his finger over the mouth of a bottle, was sprinkling Eau de Cologne on the Emperor’s pampered body with an expression which seemed to say that he alone knew where and how much Eau de Cologne should be sprinkled. Napoleon’s short hair was wet and matted on the forehead, but his face, though puffy and yellow, expressed physical satisfaction. “Go on, harder, go on!” he muttered to the valet who was rubbing him, slightly twitching and grunting. An aide-de-camp, who had entered the bedroom to report to the Emperor the number of prisoners taken in yesterday’s action, was standing by the door after delivering his message, awaiting permission to withdraw. Napoleon, frowning, looked at him from under his brows.
“No prisoners!” said he, repeating the aide-de-camp’s words. “They are forcing us to exterminate them. So much the worse for the Russian army.... Go on... harder, harder!” he muttered, hunching his back and presenting his fat shoulders.
“All right. Let Monsieur de Beausset enter, and Fabvier too,” he said, nodding to the aide-de-camp.
“Yes, sire,” and the aide-de-camp disappeared through the door of the tent.
Two valets rapidly dressed His Majesty, and wearing the blue uniform of the Guards he went with firm quick steps to the reception room.
De Beausset’s hands meanwhile were busily engaged arranging the present he had brought from the Empress, on two chairs directly in front of the entrance. But Napoleon had dressed and come out with such unexpected rapidity that he had not time to finish arranging the surprise.
Napoleon noticed at once what they were about and guessed that they were not ready. He did not wish to deprive them of the pleasure of giving him a surprise, so he pretended not to see de Beausset and called Fabvier to him, listening silently and with a stern frown to what Fabvier told him of the heroism and devotion of his troops fighting at Salamanca, at the other end of Europe, with but one thought—to be worthy of their Emperor—and but one fear—to fail to please him. The result of that battle had been deplorable. Napoleon made ironic remarks during Fabvier’s account, as if he had not expected that matters could go otherwise in his absence.
“I must make up for that in Moscow,” said Napoleon. “I’ll see you later,” he added, and summoned de Beausset, who by that time had prepared the surprise, having placed something on the chairs and covered it with a cloth.
De Beausset bowed low, with that courtly French bow which only the old retainers of the Bourbons knew how to make, and approached him, presenting an envelope.
Napoleon turned to him gaily and pulled his ear.
“You have hurried here. I am very glad. Well, what is Paris saying?” he asked, suddenly changing his former stern expression for a most cordial tone.
“Sire, all Paris regrets your absence,” replied de Beausset as was proper.
But though Napoleon knew that de Beausset had to say something of this kind, and though in his lucid moments he knew it was untrue, he was pleased to hear it from him. Again he honored him by touching his ear.
“I am very sorry to have made you travel so far,” said he.
“Sire, I expected nothing less than to find you at the gates of Moscow,” replied de Beausset.
Napoleon smiled and, lifting his head absent-mindedly, glanced to the right. An aide-de-camp approached with gliding steps and offered him a gold snuffbox, which he took.
“Yes, it has happened luckily for you,” he said, raising the open snuffbox to his nose. “You are fond of travel, and in three days you will see Moscow. You surely did not expect to see that Asiatic capital. You will have a pleasant journey.”
De Beausset bowed gratefully at this regard for his taste for travel (of which he had not till then been aware).
“Ha, what’s this?” asked Napoleon, noticing that all the courtiers were looking at something concealed under a cloth.
With courtly adroitness de Beausset half turned and without turning his back to the Emperor retired two steps, twitching off the cloth at the same time, and said:
“A present to Your Majesty from the Empress.”
It was a portrait, painted in bright colors by Gérard, of the son borne to Napoleon by the daughter of the Emperor of Austria, the boy whom for some reason everyone called “The King of Rome.”
A very pretty curly-headed boy with a look of the Christ in the Sistine Madonna was depicted playing at stick and ball. The ball represented the terrestrial globe and the stick in his other hand a scepter.
Though it was not clear what the artist meant to express by depicting the so-called King of Rome spiking the earth with a stick, the allegory apparently seemed to Napoleon, as it had done to all who had seen it in Paris, quite clear and very pleasing.
“The King of Rome!” he said, pointing to the portrait with a graceful gesture. “Admirable!”
With the natural capacity of an Italian for changing the expression of his face at will, he drew nearer to the portrait and assumed a look of pensive tenderness. He felt that what he now said and did would be historical, and it seemed to him that it would now be best for him—whose grandeur enabled his son to play stick and ball with the terrestrial globe—to show, in contrast to that grandeur, the simplest paternal tenderness. His eyes grew dim, he moved forward, glanced round at a chair (which seemed to place itself under him), and sat down on it before the portrait. At a single gesture from him everyone went out on tiptoe, leaving the great man to himself and his emotion.
Having sat still for a while he touched—himself not knowing why—the thick spot of paint representing the highest light in the portrait, rose, and recalled de Beausset and the officer on duty. He ordered the portrait to be carried outside his tent, that the Old Guard, stationed round it, might not be deprived of the pleasure of seeing the King of Rome, the son and heir of their adored monarch.
And while he was doing M. de Beausset the honor of breakfasting with him, they heard, as Napoleon had anticipated, the rapturous cries of the officers and men of the Old Guard who had run up to see the portrait.
“Vive l’Empereur! Vive le roi de Rome! Vive l’Empereur!” came those ecstatic cries.
After breakfast Napoleon in de Beausset’s presence dictated his order of the day to the army.
“Short and energetic!” he remarked when he had read over the proclamation which he had dictated straight off without corrections. It ran:
Soldiers! This is the battle you have so longed for. Victory depends on you. It is essential for us; it will give us all we need: comfortable quarters and a speedy return to our country. Behave as you did at Austerlitz, Friedland, Vítebsk, and Smolénsk. Let our remotest posterity recall your achievements this day with pride. Let it be said of each of you: “He was in the great battle before Moscow!”
“Before Moscow!” repeated Napoleon, and inviting M. de Beausset, who was so fond of travel, to accompany him on his ride, he went out of the tent to where the horses stood saddled.
“Your Majesty is too kind!” replied de Beausset to the invitation to accompany the Emperor; he wanted to sleep, did not know how to ride and was afraid of doing so.
But Napoleon nodded to the traveler, and de Beausset had to mount. When Napoleon came out of the tent the shouting of the Guards before his son’s portrait grew still louder. Napoleon frowned.
“Take him away!” he said, pointing with a gracefully majestic gesture to the portrait. “It is too soon for him to see a field of battle.”
De Beausset closed his eyes, bowed his head, and sighed deeply, to indicate how profoundly he valued and comprehended the Emperor’s words.