At dawn on the sixteenth of November, Denísov’s squadron, in which Nicholas Rostóv served and which was in Prince Bagratión’s detachment, moved from the place where it had spent the night, advancing into action as arranged, and after going behind other columns for about two thirds of a mile was stopped on the highroad. Rostóv saw the Cossacks and then the first and second squadrons of hussars and infantry battalions and artillery pass by and go forward and then Generals Bagratión and Dolgorúkov ride past with their adjutants. All the fear before action which he had experienced as previously, all the inner struggle to conquer that fear, all his dreams of distinguishing himself as a true hussar in this battle, had been wasted. Their squadron remained in reserve and Nicholas Rostóv spent that day in a dull and wretched mood. At nine in the morning, he heard firing in front and shouts of hurrah, and saw wounded being brought back (there were not many of them), and at last he saw how a whole detachment of French cavalry was brought in, convoyed by a sótnya of Cossacks. Evidently the affair was over and, though not big, had been a successful engagement. The men and officers returning spoke of a brilliant victory, of the occupation of the town of Wischau and the capture of a whole French squadron. The day was bright and sunny after a sharp night frost, and the cheerful glitter of that autumn day was in keeping with the news of victory which was conveyed, not only by the tales of those who had taken part in it, but also by the joyful expression on the faces of soldiers, officers, generals, and adjutants, as they passed Rostóv going or coming. And Nicholas, who had vainly suffered all the dread that precedes a battle and had spent that happy day in inactivity, was all the more depressed.
“Come here, Wostóv. Let’s dwink to dwown our gwief!” shouted Denísov, who had settled down by the roadside with a flask and some food.
The officers gathered round Denísov’s canteen, eating and talking.
“There! They are bringing another!” cried one of the officers, indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot by two Cossacks.
One of them was leading by the bridle a fine large French horse he had taken from the prisoner.
“Sell us that horse!” Denísov called out to the Cossacks.
“If you like, your honor!”
The officers got up and stood round the Cossacks and their prisoner. The French dragoon was a young Alsatian who spoke French with a German accent. He was breathless with agitation, his face was red, and when he heard some French spoken he at once began speaking to the officers, addressing first one, then another. He said he would not have been taken, it was not his fault but the corporal’s who had sent him to seize some horsecloths, though he had told him the Russians were there. And at every word he added: “But don’t hurt my little horse!” and stroked the animal. It was plain that he did not quite grasp where he was. Now he excused himself for having been taken prisoner and now, imagining himself before his own officers, insisted on his soldierly discipline and zeal in the service. He brought with him into our rearguard all the freshness of atmosphere of the French army, which was so alien to us.
The Cossacks sold the horse for two gold pieces, and Rostóv, being the richest of the officers now that he had received his money, bought it.
“But don’t hurt my little horse!” said the Alsatian good-naturedly to Rostóv when the animal was handed over to the hussar.
Rostóv smilingly reassured the dragoon and gave him money.
“Alley! Alley!” said the Cossack, touching the prisoner’s arm to make him go on.
“The Emperor! The Emperor!” was suddenly heard among the hussars.
All began to run and bustle, and Rostóv saw coming up the road behind him several riders with white plumes in their hats. In a moment everyone was in his place, waiting.
Rostóv did not know or remember how he ran to his place and mounted. Instantly his regret at not having been in action and his dejected mood amid people of whom he was weary had gone, instantly every thought of himself had vanished. He was filled with happiness at his nearness to the Emperor. He felt that this nearness by itself made up to him for the day he had lost. He was happy as a lover when the longed-for moment of meeting arrives. Not daring to look round and without looking round, he was ecstatically conscious of his approach. He felt it not only from the sound of the hoofs of the approaching cavalcade, but because as he drew near everything grew brighter, more joyful, more significant, and more festive around him. Nearer and nearer to Rostóv came that sun shedding beams of mild and majestic light around, and already he felt himself enveloped in those beams, he heard his voice, that kindly, calm, and majestic voice that was yet so simple! And as if in accord with Rostóv’s feeling, there was a deathly stillness amid which was heard the Emperor’s voice.
“The Pávlograd hussars?” he inquired.
“The reserves, sire!” replied a voice, a very human one compared to that which had said: “The Pávlograd hussars?”
The Emperor drew level with Rostóv and halted. Alexander’s face was even more beautiful than it had been three days before at the review. It shone with such gaiety and youth, such innocent youth, that it suggested the liveliness of a fourteen-year-old boy, and yet it was the face of the majestic Emperor. Casually, while surveying the squadron, the Emperor’s eyes met Rostóv’s and rested on them for not more than two seconds. Whether or no the Emperor understood what was going on in Rostóv’s soul (it seemed to Rostóv that he understood everything), at any rate his light-blue eyes gazed for about two seconds into Rostóv’s face. A gentle, mild light poured from them. Then all at once he raised his eyebrows, abruptly touched his horse with his left foot, and galloped on.
The younger Emperor could not restrain his wish to be present at the battle and, in spite of the remonstrances of his courtiers, at twelve o’clock left the third column with which he had been and galloped toward the vanguard. Before he came up with the hussars, several adjutants met him with news of the successful result of the action.
This battle, which consisted in the capture of a French squadron, was represented as a brilliant victory over the French, and so the Emperor and the whole army, especially while the smoke hung over the battlefield, believed that the French had been defeated and were retreating against their will. A few minutes after the Emperor had passed, the Pávlograd division was ordered to advance. In Wischau itself, a petty German town, Rostóv saw the Emperor again. In the market place, where there had been some rather heavy firing before the Emperor’s arrival, lay several killed and wounded soldiers whom there had not been time to move. The Emperor, surrounded by his suite of officers and courtiers, was riding a bobtailed chestnut mare, a different one from that which he had ridden at the review, and bending to one side he gracefully held a gold lorgnette to his eyes and looked at a soldier who lay prone, with blood on his uncovered head. The wounded soldier was so dirty, coarse, and revolting that his proximity to the Emperor shocked Rostóv. Rostóv saw how the Emperor’s rather round shoulders shuddered as if a cold shiver had run down them, how his left foot began convulsively tapping the horse’s side with the spur, and how the well-trained horse looked round unconcerned and did not stir. An adjutant, dismounting, lifted the soldier under the arms to place him on a stretcher that had been brought. The soldier groaned.
“Gently, gently! Can’t you do it more gently?” said the Emperor apparently suffering more than the dying soldier, and he rode away.
Rostóv saw tears filling the Emperor’s eyes and heard him, as he was riding away, say to Czartorýski: “What a terrible thing war is: what a terrible thing! Quelle terrible chose que la guerre!”
The troops of the vanguard were stationed before Wischau, within sight of the enemy’s lines, which all day long had yielded ground to us at the least firing. The Emperor’s gratitude was announced to the vanguard, rewards were promised, and the men received a double ration of vodka. The campfires crackled and the soldiers’ songs resounded even more merrily than on the previous night. Denísov celebrated his promotion to the rank of major, and Rostóv, who had already drunk enough, at the end of the feast proposed the Emperor’s health. “Not ‘our Sovereign, the Emperor,’ as they say at official dinners,” said he, “but the health of our Sovereign, that good, enchanting, and great man! Let us drink to his health and to the certain defeat of the French!”
“If we fought before,” he said, “not letting the French pass, as at Schön Grabern, what shall we not do now when he is at the front? We will all die for him gladly! Is it not so, gentlemen? Perhaps I am not saying it right, I have drunk a good deal—but that is how I feel, and so do you too! To the health of Alexander the First! Hurrah!”
“Hurrah!” rang the enthusiastic voices of the officers.
And the old cavalry captain, Kírsten, shouted enthusiastically and no less sincerely than the twenty-year-old Rostóv.
When the officers had emptied and smashed their glasses, Kírsten filled others and, in shirt sleeves and breeches, went glass in hand to the soldiers’ bonfires and with his long gray mustache, his white chest showing under his open shirt, he stood in a majestic pose in the light of the campfire, waving his uplifted arm.
“Lads! here’s to our Sovereign, the Emperor, and victory over our enemies! Hurrah!” he exclaimed in his dashing, old, hussar’s baritone.
The hussars crowded round and responded heartily with loud shouts.
Late that night, when all had separated, Denísov with his short hand patted his favorite, Rostóv, on the shoulder.
“As there’s no one to fall in love with on campaign, he’s fallen in love with the Tsar,” he said.
“Denísov, don’t make fun of it!” cried Rostóv. “It is such a lofty, beautiful feeling, such a...”
“I believe it, I believe it, fwiend, and I share and appwove...”
“No, you don’t understand!”
And Rostóv got up and went wandering among the campfires, dreaming of what happiness it would be to die—not in saving the Emperor’s life (he did not even dare to dream of that), but simply to die before his eyes. He really was in love with the Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms and the hope of future triumph. And he was not the only man to experience that feeling during those memorable days preceding the battle of Austerlitz: nine tenths of the men in the Russian army were then in love, though less ecstatically, with their Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms.
The next day the Emperor stopped at Wischau, and Villier, his physician, was repeatedly summoned to see him. At headquarters and among the troops near by the news spread that the Emperor was unwell. He ate nothing and had slept badly that night, those around him reported. The cause of this indisposition was the strong impression made on his sensitive mind by the sight of the killed and wounded.
At daybreak on the seventeenth, a French officer who had come with a flag of truce, demanding an audience with the Russian Emperor, was brought into Wischau from our outposts. This officer was Savary. The Emperor had only just fallen asleep and so Savary had to wait. At midday he was admitted to the Emperor, and an hour later he rode off with Prince Dolgorúkov to the advanced post of the French army.
It was rumored that Savary had been sent to propose to Alexander a meeting with Napoleon. To the joy and pride of the whole army, a personal interview was refused, and instead of the Sovereign, Prince Dolgorúkov, the victor at Wischau, was sent with Savary to negotiate with Napoleon if, contrary to expectations, these negotiations were actuated by a real desire for peace.
Toward evening Dolgorúkov came back, went straight to the Tsar, and remained alone with him for a long time.
On the eighteenth and nineteenth of November, the army advanced two days’ march and the enemy’s outposts after a brief interchange of shots retreated. In the highest army circles from midday on the nineteenth, a great, excitedly bustling activity began which lasted till the morning of the twentieth, when the memorable battle of Austerlitz was fought.
Till midday on the nineteenth, the activity—the eager talk, running to and fro, and dispatching of adjutants—was confined to the Emperor’s headquarters. But on the afternoon of that day, this activity reached Kutúzov’s headquarters and the staffs of the commanders of columns. By evening, the adjutants had spread it to all ends and parts of the army, and in the night from the nineteenth to the twentieth, the whole eighty thousand allied troops rose from their bivouacs to the hum of voices, and the army swayed and started in one enormous mass six miles long.
The concentrated activity which had begun at the Emperor’s headquarters in the morning and had started the whole movement that followed was like the first movement of the main wheel of a large tower clock. One wheel slowly moved, another was set in motion, and a third, and wheels began to revolve faster and faster, levers and cogwheels to work, chimes to play, figures to pop out, and the hands to advance with regular motion as a result of all that activity.
Just as in the mechanism of a clock, so in the mechanism of the military machine, an impulse once given leads to the final result; and just as indifferently quiescent till the moment when motion is transmitted to them are the parts of the mechanism which the impulse has not yet reached. Wheels creak on their axles as the cogs engage one another and the revolving pulleys whirr with the rapidity of their movement, but a neighboring wheel is as quiet and motionless as though it were prepared to remain so for a hundred years; but the moment comes when the lever catches it and obeying the impulse that wheel begins to creak and joins in the common motion the result and aim of which are beyond its ken.
Just as in a clock, the result of the complicated motion of innumerable wheels and pulleys is merely a slow and regular movement of the hands which show the time, so the result of all the complicated human activities of 160,000 Russians and French—all their passions, desires, remorse, humiliations, sufferings, outbursts of pride, fear, and enthusiasm—was only the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so-called battle of the three Emperors—that is to say, a slow movement of the hand on the dial of human history.
Prince Andrew was on duty that day and in constant attendance on the commander in chief.
At six in the evening, Kutúzov went to the Emperor’s headquarters and after staying but a short time with the Tsar went to see the grand marshal of the court, Count Tolstóy.
Bolkónski took the opportunity to go in to get some details of the coming action from Dolgorúkov. He felt that Kutúzov was upset and dissatisfied about something and that at headquarters they were dissatisfied with him, and also that at the Emperor’s headquarters everyone adopted toward him the tone of men who know something others do not know: he therefore wished to speak to Dolgorúkov.
“Well, how d’you do, my dear fellow?” said Dolgorúkov, who was sitting at tea with Bilíbin. “The fete is for tomorrow. How is your old fellow? Out of sorts?”
“I won’t say he is out of sorts, but I fancy he would like to be heard.”
“But they heard him at the council of war and will hear him when he talks sense, but to temporize and wait for something now when Bonaparte fears nothing so much as a general battle is impossible.”
“Yes, you have seen him?” said Prince Andrew. “Well, what is Bonaparte like? How did he impress you?”
“Yes, I saw him, and am convinced that he fears nothing so much as a general engagement,” repeated Dolgorúkov, evidently prizing this general conclusion which he had arrived at from his interview with Napoleon. “If he weren’t afraid of a battle why did he ask for that interview? Why negotiate, and above all why retreat, when to retreat is so contrary to his method of conducting war? Believe me, he is afraid, afraid of a general battle. His hour has come! Mark my words!”
“But tell me, what is he like, eh?” said Prince Andrew again.
“He is a man in a gray overcoat, very anxious that I should call him ‘Your Majesty,’ but who, to his chagrin, got no title from me! That’s the sort of man he is, and nothing more,” replied Dolgorúkov, looking round at Bilíbin with a smile.
“Despite my great respect for old Kutúzov,” he continued, “we should be a nice set of fellows if we were to wait about and so give him a chance to escape, or to trick us, now that we certainly have him in our hands! No, we mustn’t forget Suvórov and his rule—not to put yourself in a position to be attacked, but yourself to attack. Believe me in war the energy of young men often shows the way better than all the experience of old Cunctators.”
“But in what position are we going to attack him? I have been at the outposts today and it is impossible to say where his chief forces are situated,” said Prince Andrew.
He wished to explain to Dolgorúkov a plan of attack he had himself formed.
“Oh, that is all the same,” Dolgorúkov said quickly, and getting up he spread a map on the table. “All eventualities have been foreseen. If he is standing before Brünn...”
And Prince Dolgorúkov rapidly but indistinctly explained Weyrother’s plan of a flanking movement.
Prince Andrew began to reply and to state his own plan, which might have been as good as Weyrother’s, but for the disadvantage that Weyrother’s had already been approved. As soon as Prince Andrew began to demonstrate the defects of the latter and the merits of his own plan, Prince Dolgorúkov ceased to listen to him and gazed absent-mindedly not at the map, but at Prince Andrew’s face.
“There will be a council of war at Kutúzov’s tonight, though; you can say all this there,” remarked Dolgorúkov.
“I will do so,” said Prince Andrew, moving away from the map.
“Whatever are you bothering about, gentlemen?” said Bilíbin, who, till then, had listened with an amused smile to their conversation and now was evidently ready with a joke. “Whether tomorrow brings victory or defeat, the glory of our Russian arms is secure. Except your Kutúzov, there is not a single Russian in command of a column! The commanders are: Herr General Wimpfen, le Comte de Langeron, le Prince de Lichtenstein, le Prince, de Hohenlohe, and finally Prishprish, and so on like all those Polish names.”
“Be quiet, backbiter!” said Dolgorúkov. “It is not true; there are now two Russians, Milorádovich, and Dokhtúrov, and there would be a third, Count Arakchéev, if his nerves were not too weak.”
“However, I think General Kutúzov has come out,” said Prince Andrew. “I wish you good luck and success, gentlemen!” he added and went out after shaking hands with Dolgorúkov and Bilíbin.
On the way home, Prince Andrew could not refrain from asking Kutúzov, who was sitting silently beside him, what he thought of tomorrow’s battle.
Kutúzov looked sternly at his adjutant and, after a pause, replied: “I think the battle will be lost, and so I told Count Tolstóy and asked him to tell the Emperor. What do you think he replied? ‘But, my dear general, I am engaged with rice and cutlets, look after military matters yourself!’ Yes... That was the answer I got!”
Shortly after nine o’clock that evening, Weyrother drove with his plans to Kutúzov’s quarters where the council of war was to be held. All the commanders of columns were summoned to the commander in chief’s and with the exception of Prince Bagratión, who declined to come, were all there at the appointed time.
Weyrother, who was in full control of the proposed battle, by his eagerness and briskness presented a marked contrast to the dissatisfied and drowsy Kutúzov, who reluctantly played the part of chairman and president of the council of war. Weyrother evidently felt himself to be at the head of a movement that had already become unrestrainable. He was like a horse running downhill harnessed to a heavy cart. Whether he was pulling it or being pushed by it he did not know, but rushed along at headlong speed with no time to consider what this movement might lead to. Weyrother had been twice that evening to the enemy’s picket line to reconnoiter personally, and twice to the Emperors, Russian and Austrian, to report and explain, and to his headquarters where he had dictated the dispositions in German, and now, much exhausted, he arrived at Kutúzov’s.
He was evidently so busy that he even forgot to be polite to the commander in chief. He interrupted him, talked rapidly and indistinctly, without looking at the man he was addressing, and did not reply to questions put to him. He was bespattered with mud and had a pitiful, weary, and distracted air, though at the same time he was haughty and self-confident.
Kutúzov was occupying a nobleman’s castle of modest dimensions near Ostralitz. In the large drawing room which had become the commander in chief’s office were gathered Kutúzov himself, Weyrother, and the members of the council of war. They were drinking tea, and only awaited Prince Bagratión to begin the council. At last Bagratión’s orderly came with the news that the prince could not attend. Prince Andrew came in to inform the commander in chief of this and, availing himself of permission previously given him by Kutúzov to be present at the council, he remained in the room.
“Since Prince Bagratión is not coming, we may begin,” said Weyrother, hurriedly rising from his seat and going up to the table on which an enormous map of the environs of Brünn was spread out.
Kutúzov, with his uniform unbuttoned so that his fat neck bulged over his collar as if escaping, was sitting almost asleep in a low chair, with his podgy old hands resting symmetrically on its arms. At the sound of Weyrother’s voice, he opened his one eye with an effort.
“Yes, yes, if you please! It is already late,” said he, and nodding his head he let it droop and again closed his eye.
If at first the members of the council thought that Kutúzov was pretending to sleep, the sounds his nose emitted during the reading that followed proved that the commander in chief at that moment was absorbed by a far more serious matter than a desire to show his contempt for the dispositions or anything else—he was engaged in satisfying the irresistible human need for sleep. He really was asleep. Weyrother, with the gesture of a man too busy to lose a moment, glanced at Kutúzov and, having convinced himself that he was asleep, took up a paper and in a loud, monotonous voice began to read out the dispositions for the impending battle, under a heading which he also read out:
“Dispositions for an attack on the enemy position behind Kobelnitz and Sokolnitz, November 30, 1805.”
The dispositions were very complicated and difficult. They began as follows:
“As the enemy’s left wing rests on wooded hills and his right extends along Kobelnitz and Sokolnitz behind the ponds that are there, while we, on the other hand, with our left wing by far outflank his right, it is advantageous to attack the enemy’s latter wing especially if we occupy the villages of Sokolnitz and Kobelnitz, whereby we can both fall on his flank and pursue him over the plain between Schlappanitz and the Thuerassa forest, avoiding the defiles of Schlappanitz and Bellowitz which cover the enemy’s front. For this object it is necessary that... The first column marches... The second column marches... The third column marches...” and so on, read Weyrother.
The generals seemed to listen reluctantly to the difficult dispositions. The tall, fair-haired General Buxhöwden stood, leaning his back against the wall, his eyes fixed on a burning candle, and seemed not to listen or even to wish to be thought to listen. Exactly opposite Weyrother, with his glistening wide-open eyes fixed upon him and his mustache twisted upwards, sat the ruddy Milorádovich in a military pose, his elbows turned outwards, his hands on his knees, and his shoulders raised. He remained stubbornly silent, gazing at Weyrother’s face, and only turned away his eyes when the Austrian chief of staff finished reading. Then Milorádovich looked round significantly at the other generals. But one could not tell from that significant look whether he agreed or disagreed and was satisfied or not with the arrangements. Next to Weyrother sat Count Langeron who, with a subtle smile that never left his typically southern French face during the whole time of the reading, gazed at his delicate fingers which rapidly twirled by its corners a gold snuffbox on which was a portrait. In the middle of one of the longest sentences, he stopped the rotary motion of the snuffbox, raised his head, and with inimical politeness lurking in the corners of his thin lips interrupted Weyrother, wishing to say something. But the Austrian general, continuing to read, frowned angrily and jerked his elbows, as if to say: “You can tell me your views later, but now be so good as to look at the map and listen.” Langeron lifted his eyes with an expression of perplexity, turned round to Milorádovich as if seeking an explanation, but meeting the latter’s impressive but meaningless gaze drooped his eyes sadly and again took to twirling his snuffbox.
“A geography lesson!” he muttered as if to himself, but loud enough to be heard.
Przebyszéwski, with respectful but dignified politeness, held his hand to his ear toward Weyrother, with the air of a man absorbed in attention. Dohktúrov, a little man, sat opposite Weyrother, with an assiduous and modest mien, and stooping over the outspread map conscientiously studied the dispositions and the unfamiliar locality. He asked Weyrother several times to repeat words he had not clearly heard and the difficult names of villages. Weyrother complied and Dohktúrov noted them down.
When the reading which lasted more than an hour was over, Langeron again brought his snuffbox to rest and, without looking at Weyrother or at anyone in particular, began to say how difficult it was to carry out such a plan in which the enemy’s position was assumed to be known, whereas it was perhaps not known, since the enemy was in movement. Langeron’s objections were valid but it was obvious that their chief aim was to show General Weyrother—who had read his dispositions with as much self-confidence as if he were addressing school children—that he had to do, not with fools, but with men who could teach him something in military matters.
When the monotonous sound of Weyrother’s voice ceased, Kutúzov opened his eye as a miller wakes up when the soporific drone of the mill wheel is interrupted. He listened to what Langeron said, as if remarking, “So you are still at that silly business!” quickly closed his eye again, and let his head sink still lower.
Langeron, trying as virulently as possible to sting Weyrother’s vanity as author of the military plan, argued that Bonaparte might easily attack instead of being attacked, and so render the whole of this plan perfectly worthless. Weyrother met all objections with a firm and contemptuous smile, evidently prepared beforehand to meet all objections be they what they might.
“If he could attack us, he would have done so today,” said he.
“So you think he is powerless?” said Langeron.
“He has forty thousand men at most,” replied Weyrother, with the smile of a doctor to whom an old wife wishes to explain the treatment of a case.
“In that case he is inviting his doom by awaiting our attack,” said Langeron, with a subtly ironical smile, again glancing round for support to Milorádovich who was near him.
But Milorádovich was at that moment evidently thinking of anything rather than of what the generals were disputing about.
“Ma foi!” said he, “tomorrow we shall see all that on the battlefield.”
Weyrother again gave that smile which seemed to say that to him it was strange and ridiculous to meet objections from Russian generals and to have to prove to them what he had not merely convinced himself of, but had also convinced the sovereign Emperors of.
“The enemy has quenched his fires and a continual noise is heard from his camp,” said he. “What does that mean? Either he is retreating, which is the only thing we need fear, or he is changing his position.” (He smiled ironically.) “But even if he also took up a position in the Thuerassa, he merely saves us a great deal of trouble and all our arrangements to the minutest detail remain the same.”
“How is that?...” began Prince Andrew, who had for long been waiting an opportunity to express his doubts.
Kutúzov here woke up, coughed heavily, and looked round at the generals.
“Gentlemen, the dispositions for tomorrow—or rather for today, for it is past midnight—cannot now be altered,” said he. “You have heard them, and we shall all do our duty. But before a battle, there is nothing more important...” he paused, “than to have a good sleep.”
He moved as if to rise. The generals bowed and retired. It was past midnight. Prince Andrew went out.
The council of war, at which Prince Andrew had not been able to express his opinion as he had hoped to, left on him a vague and uneasy impression. Whether Dolgorúkov and Weyrother, or Kutúzov, Langeron, and the others who did not approve of the plan of attack, were right—he did not know. “But was it really not possible for Kutúzov to state his views plainly to the Emperor? Is it possible that on account of court and personal considerations tens of thousands of lives, and my life, my life,” he thought, “must be risked?”
“Yes, it is very likely that I shall be killed tomorrow,” he thought. And suddenly, at this thought of death, a whole series of most distant, most intimate, memories rose in his imagination: he remembered his last parting from his father and his wife; he remembered the days when he first loved her. He thought of her pregnancy and felt sorry for her and for himself, and in a nervously emotional and softened mood he went out of the hut in which he was billeted with Nesvítski and began to walk up and down before it.
The night was foggy and through the fog the moonlight gleamed mysteriously. “Yes, tomorrow, tomorrow!” he thought. “Tomorrow everything may be over for me! All these memories will be no more, none of them will have any meaning for me. Tomorrow perhaps, even certainly, I have a presentiment that for the first time I shall have to show all I can do.” And his fancy pictured the battle, its loss, the concentration of fighting at one point, and the hesitation of all the commanders. And then that happy moment, that Toulon for which he had so long waited, presents itself to him at last. He firmly and clearly expresses his opinion to Kutúzov, to Weyrother, and to the Emperors. All are struck by the justness of his views, but no one undertakes to carry them out, so he takes a regiment, a division—stipulates that no one is to interfere with his arrangements—leads his division to the decisive point, and gains the victory alone. “But death and suffering?” suggested another voice. Prince Andrew, however, did not answer that voice and went on dreaming of his triumphs. The dispositions for the next battle are planned by him alone. Nominally he is only an adjutant on Kutúzov’s staff, but he does everything alone. The next battle is won by him alone. Kutúzov is removed and he is appointed... “Well and then?” asked the other voice. “If before that you are not ten times wounded, killed, or betrayed, well... what then?...” “Well then,” Prince Andrew answered himself, “I don’t know what will happen and don’t want to know, and can’t, but if I want this—want glory, want to be known to men, want to be loved by them, it is not my fault that I want it and want nothing but that and live only for that. Yes, for that alone! I shall never tell anyone, but, oh God! what am I to do if I love nothing but fame and men’s esteem? Death, wounds, the loss of family—I fear nothing. And precious and dear as many persons are to me—father, sister, wife—those dearest to me—yet dreadful and unnatural as it seems, I would give them all at once for a moment of glory, of triumph over men, of love from men I don’t know and never shall know, for the love of these men here,” he thought, as he listened to voices in Kutúzov’s courtyard. The voices were those of the orderlies who were packing up; one voice, probably a coachman’s, was teasing Kutúzov’s old cook whom Prince Andrew knew, and who was called Tit. He was saying, “Tit, I say, Tit!”
“Well?” returned the old man.
“Go, Tit, thresh a bit!” said the wag.
“Oh, go to the devil!” called out a voice, drowned by the laughter of the orderlies and servants.
“All the same, I love and value nothing but triumph over them all, I value this mystic power and glory that is floating here above me in this mist!”
That same night, Rostóv was with a platoon on skirmishing duty in front of Bagratión’s detachment. His hussars were placed along the line in couples and he himself rode along the line trying to master the sleepiness that kept coming over him. An enormous space, with our army’s campfires dimly glowing in the fog, could be seen behind him; in front of him was misty darkness. Rostóv could see nothing, peer as he would into that foggy distance: now something gleamed gray, now there was something black, now little lights seemed to glimmer where the enemy ought to be, now he fancied it was only something in his own eyes. His eyes kept closing, and in his fancy appeared—now the Emperor, now Denísov, and now Moscow memories—and he again hurriedly opened his eyes and saw close before him the head and ears of the horse he was riding, and sometimes, when he came within six paces of them, the black figures of hussars, but in the distance was still the same misty darkness. “Why not?... It might easily happen,” thought Rostóv, “that the Emperor will meet me and give me an order as he would to any other officer; he’ll say: ‘Go and find out what’s there.’ There are many stories of his getting to know an officer in just such a chance way and attaching him to himself! What if he gave me a place near him? Oh, how I would guard him, how I would tell him the truth, how I would unmask his deceivers!” And in order to realize vividly his love devotion to the sovereign, Rostóv pictured to himself an enemy or a deceitful German, whom he would not only kill with pleasure but whom he would slap in the face before the Emperor. Suddenly a distant shout aroused him. He started and opened his eyes.
“Where am I? Oh yes, in the skirmishing line... pass and watchword—shaft, Olmütz. What a nuisance that our squadron will be in reserve tomorrow,” he thought. “I’ll ask leave to go to the front, this may be my only chance of seeing the Emperor. It won’t be long now before I am off duty. I’ll take another turn and when I get back I’ll go to the general and ask him.” He readjusted himself in the saddle and touched up his horse to ride once more round his hussars. It seemed to him that it was getting lighter. To the left he saw a sloping descent lit up, and facing it a black knoll that seemed as steep as a wall. On this knoll there was a white patch that Rostóv could not at all make out: was it a glade in the wood lit up by the moon, or some unmelted snow, or some white houses? He even thought something moved on that white spot. “I expect it’s snow... that spot... a spot—une tache,” he thought. “There now... it’s not a tache... Natásha... sister, black eyes... Na... tasha... (Won’t she be surprised when I tell her how I’ve seen the Emperor?) Natásha... take my sabretache...”—“Keep to the right, your honor, there are bushes here,” came the voice of an hussar, past whom Rostóv was riding in the act of falling asleep. Rostóv lifted his head that had sunk almost to his horse’s mane and pulled up beside the hussar. He was succumbing to irresistible, youthful, childish drowsiness. “But what was I thinking? I mustn’t forget. How shall I speak to the Emperor? No, that’s not it—that’s tomorrow. Oh yes! Natásha... sabretache... saber them... Whom? The hussars... Ah, the hussars with mustaches. Along the Tverskáya Street rode the hussar with mustaches... I thought about him too, just opposite Gúryev’s house... Old Gúryev.... Oh, but Denísov’s a fine fellow. But that’s all nonsense. The chief thing is that the Emperor is here. How he looked at me and wished to say something, but dared not.... No, it was I who dared not. But that’s nonsense, the chief thing is not to forget the important thing I was thinking of. Yes, Na-tásha, sabretache, oh, yes, yes! That’s right!” And his head once more sank to his horse’s neck. All at once it seemed to him that he was being fired at. “What? What? What?... Cut them down! What?...” said Rostóv, waking up. At the moment he opened his eyes he heard in front of him, where the enemy was, the long-drawn shouts of thousands of voices. His horse and the horse of the hussar near him pricked their ears at these shouts. Over there, where the shouting came from, a fire flared up and went out again, then another, and all along the French line on the hill fires flared up and the shouting grew louder and louder. Rostóv could hear the sound of French words but could not distinguish them. The din of many voices was too great; all he could hear was: “ahahah!” and “rrrr!”
“What’s that? What do you make of it?” said Rostóv to the hussar beside him. “That must be the enemy’s camp!”
The hussar did not reply.
“Why, don’t you hear it?” Rostóv asked again, after waiting for a reply.
“Who can tell, your honor?” replied the hussar reluctantly.
“From the direction, it must be the enemy,” repeated Rostóv.
“It may be he or it may be nothing,” muttered the hussar. “It’s dark... Steady!” he cried to his fidgeting horse.
Rostóv’s horse was also getting restive: it pawed the frozen ground, pricking its ears at the noise and looking at the lights. The shouting grew still louder and merged into a general roar that only an army of several thousand men could produce. The lights spread farther and farther, probably along the line of the French camp. Rostóv no longer wanted to sleep. The gay triumphant shouting of the enemy army had a stimulating effect on him. “Vive l’Empereur! l’Empereur!” he now heard distinctly.
“They can’t be far off, probably just beyond the stream,” he said to the hussar beside him.
The hussar only sighed without replying and coughed angrily. The sound of horse’s hoofs approaching at a trot along the line of hussars was heard, and out of the foggy darkness the figure of a sergeant of hussars suddenly appeared, looming huge as an elephant.
“Your honor, the generals!” said the sergeant, riding up to Rostóv.
Rostóv, still looking round toward the fires and the shouts, rode with the sergeant to meet some mounted men who were riding along the line. One was on a white horse. Prince Bagratión and Prince Dolgorúkov with their adjutants had come to witness the curious phenomenon of the lights and shouts in the enemy’s camp. Rostóv rode up to Bagratión, reported to him, and then joined the adjutants listening to what the generals were saying.
“Believe me,” said Prince Dolgorúkov, addressing Bagratión, “it is nothing but a trick! He has retreated and ordered the rearguard to kindle fires and make a noise to deceive us.”
“Hardly,” said Bagratión. “I saw them this evening on that knoll; if they had retreated they would have withdrawn from that too.... Officer!” said Bagratión to Rostóv, “are the enemy’s skirmishers still there?”
“They were there this evening, but now I don’t know, your excellency. Shall I go with some of my hussars to see?” replied Rostóv.
Bagratión stopped and, before replying, tried to see Rostóv’s face in the mist.
“Well, go and see,” he said, after a pause.
Rostóv spurred his horse, called to Sergeant Fédchenko and two other hussars, told them to follow him, and trotted downhill in the direction from which the shouting came. He felt both frightened and pleased to be riding alone with three hussars into that mysterious and dangerous misty distance where no one had been before him. Bagratión called to him from the hill not to go beyond the stream, but Rostóv pretended not to hear him and did not stop but rode on and on, continually mistaking bushes for trees and gullies for men and continually discovering his mistakes. Having descended the hill at a trot, he no longer saw either our own or the enemy’s fires, but heard the shouting of the French more loudly and distinctly. In the valley he saw before him something like a river, but when he reached it he found it was a road. Having come out onto the road he reined in his horse, hesitating whether to ride along it or cross it and ride over the black field up the hillside. To keep to the road which gleamed white in the mist would have been safer because it would be easier to see people coming along it. “Follow me!” said he, crossed the road, and began riding up the hill at a gallop toward the point where the French pickets had been standing that evening.
“Your honor, there he is!” cried one of the hussars behind him. And before Rostóv had time to make out what the black thing was that had suddenly appeared in the fog, there was a flash, followed by a report, and a bullet whizzing high up in the mist with a plaintive sound passed out of hearing. Another musket missed fire but flashed in the pan. Rostóv turned his horse and galloped back. Four more reports followed at intervals, and the bullets passed somewhere in the fog singing in different tones. Rostóv reined in his horse, whose spirits had risen, like his own, at the firing, and went back at a footpace. “Well, some more! Some more!” a merry voice was saying in his soul. But no more shots came.
Only when approaching Bagratión did Rostóv let his horse gallop again, and with his hand at the salute rode up to the general.
Dolgorúkov was still insisting that the French had retreated and had only lit fires to deceive us.
“What does that prove?” he was saying as Rostóv rode up. “They might retreat and leave the pickets.”
“It’s plain that they have not all gone yet, Prince,” said Bagratión. “Wait till tomorrow morning, we’ll find out everything tomorrow.”
“The picket is still on the hill, your excellency, just where it was in the evening,” reported Rostóv, stooping forward with his hand at the salute and unable to repress the smile of delight induced by his ride and especially by the sound of the bullets.
“Very good, very good,” said Bagratión. “Thank you, officer.”
“Your excellency,” said Rostóv, “may I ask a favor?”
“What is it?”
“Tomorrow our squadron is to be in reserve. May I ask to be attached to the first squadron?”
“What’s your name?”
“Oh, very well, you may stay in attendance on me.”
“Count Ilyá Rostóv’s son?” asked Dolgorúkov.
But Rostóv did not reply.
“Then I may reckon on it, your excellency?”
“I will give the order.”
“Tomorrow very likely I may be sent with some message to the Emperor,” thought Rostóv.
The fires and shouting in the enemy’s army were occasioned by the fact that while Napoleon’s proclamation was being read to the troops the Emperor himself rode round his bivouacs. The soldiers, on seeing him, lit wisps of straw and ran after him, shouting, “Vive l’Empereur!” Napoleon’s proclamation was as follows:
Soldiers! The Russian army is advancing against you to avenge the Austrian army of Ulm. They are the same battalions you broke at Hollabrünn and have pursued ever since to this place. The position we occupy is a strong one, and while they are marching to go round me on the right they will expose a flank to me. Soldiers! I will myself direct your battalions. I will keep out of fire if you with your habitual valor carry disorder and confusion into the enemy’s ranks, but should victory be in doubt, even for a moment, you will see your Emperor exposing himself to the first blows of the enemy, for there must be no doubt of victory, especially on this day when what is at stake is the honor of the French infantry, so necessary to the honor of our nation.
Do not break your ranks on the plea of removing the wounded! Let every man be fully imbued with the thought that we must defeat these hirelings of England, inspired by such hatred of our nation! This victory will conclude our campaign and we can return to winter quarters, where fresh French troops who are being raised in France will join us, and the peace I shall conclude will be worthy of my people, of you, and of myself.