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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 21
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War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 21 Post by :qwert Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :3119

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 21 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Five : 1806-07 - Chapter 21

The Emperor rode to the square where, facing one another, a
battalion of the Preobrazhensk regiment stood on the right and a
battalion of the French Guards in their bearskin caps on the left.

As the Tsar rode up to one flank of the battalions, which
presented arms, another group of horsemen galloped up to the
opposite flank, and at the head of them Rostov recognized Napoleon. It
could be no one else. He came at a gallop, wearing a small hat, a blue
uniform open over a white vest, and the St. Andrew ribbon over his
shoulder. He was riding a very fine thoroughbred gray Arab horse
with a crimson gold-embroidered saddlecloth. On approaching
Alexander he raised his hat, and as he did so, Rostov, with his
cavalryman's eye, could not help noticing that Napoleon did not sit
well or firmly in the saddle. The battalions shouted "Hurrah!" and
"Vive l'Empereur!" Napoleon said something to Alexander, and both
Emperors dismounted and took each other's hands. Napoleon's face
wore an unpleasant and artificial smile. Alexander was saying
something affable to him.

In spite of the trampling of the French gendarmes' horses, which
were pushing back the crowd, Rostov kept his eyes on every movement of
Alexander and Bonaparte. It struck him as a surprise that Alexander
treated Bonaparte as an equal and that the latter was quite at ease
with the Tsar, as if such relations with an Emperor were an everyday
matter to him.

Alexander and Napoleon, with the long train of their suites,
approached the right flank of the Preobrazhensk battalion and came
straight up to the crowd standing there. The crowd unexpectedly
found itself so close to the Emperors that Rostov, standing in the
front row, was afraid he might be recognized.

"Sire, I ask your permission to present the Legion of Honor to the
bravest of your soldiers," said a sharp, precise voice, articulating
every letter.

This was said by the undersized Napoleon, looking up straight into
Alexander's eyes. Alexander listened attentively to what was said to
him and, bending his head, smiled pleasantly.

"To him who has borne himself most bravely in this last war,"
added Napoleon, accentuating each syllable, as with a composure and
assurance exasperating to Rostov, he ran his eyes over the Russian
ranks drawn up before him, who all presented arms with their eyes
fixed on their Emperor.

"Will Your Majesty allow me to consult the colonel?" said
Alexander and took a few hasty steps toward Prince Kozlovski, the
commander of the battalion.

Bonaparte meanwhile began taking the glove off his small white hand,
tore it in doing so, and threw it away. An aide-de-camp behind him
rushed forward and picked it up.

"To whom shall it be given?" the Emperor Alexander asked
Koslovski, in Russian in a low voice.

"To whomever Your Majesty commands."

The Emperor knit his brows with dissatisfaction and, glancing
back, remarked:

"But we must give him an answer."

Kozlovski scanned the ranks resolutely and included Rostov in his
scrutiny.

"Can it be me?" thought Rostov.

"Lazarev!" the colonel called, with a frown, and Lazarev, the
first soldier in the rank, stepped briskly forward.

"Where are you off to? Stop here!" voices whispered to Lazarev who
did not know where to go. Lazarev stopped, casting a sidelong look
at his colonel in alarm. His face twitched, as often happens to
soldiers called before the ranks.

Napoleon slightly turned his head, and put his plump little hand out
behind him as if to take something. The members of his suite, guessing
at once what he wanted, moved about and whispered as they passed
something from one to another, and a page- the same one Rostov had
seen the previous evening at Boris'- ran forward and, bowing
respectfully over the outstretched hand and not keeping it waiting a
moment, laid in it an Order on a red ribbon. Napoleon, without
looking, pressed two fingers together and the badge was between
them. Then he approached Lazarev (who rolled his eyes and persistently
gazed at his own monarch), looked round at the Emperor Alexander to
imply that what he was now doing was done for the sake of his ally,
and the small white hand holding the Order touched one of Lazarev's
buttons. It was as if Napoleon knew that it was only necessary for his
hand to deign to touch that soldier's breast for the soldier to be
forever happy, rewarded, and distinguished from everyone else in the
world. Napoleon merely laid the cross on Lazarev's breast and,
dropping his hand, turned toward Alexander as though sure that the
cross would adhere there. And it really did.

Officious hands, Russian and French, immediately seized the cross
and fastened it to the uniform. Lazarev glanced morosely at the little
man with white hands who was doing something to him and, still
standing motionless presenting arms, looked again straight into
Alexander's eyes, as if asking whether he should stand there, or go
away, or do something else. But receiving no orders, he remained for
some time in that rigid position.

The Emperors remounted and rode away. The Preobrazhensk battalion,
breaking rank, mingled with the French Guards and sat down at the
tables prepared for them.

Lazarev sat in the place of honor. Russian and French officers
embraced him, congratulated him, and pressed his hands. Crowds of
officers and civilians drew near merely to see him. A rumble of
Russian and French voices and laughter filled the air round the tables
in the square. Two officers with flushed faces, looking cheerful and
happy, passed by Rostov.

"What d'you think of the treat? All on silver plate," one of them
was saying. "Have you seen Lazarev?"

"I have."

"Tomorrow, I hear, the Preobrazhenskis will give them a dinner."

"Yes, but what luck for Lazarev! Twelve hundred francs' pension
for life."

"Here's a cap, lads!" shouted a Preobrazhensk soldier, donning a
shaggy French cap.

"It's a fine thing! First-rate!"

"Have you heard the password?" asked one Guards' officer of another.
"The day before yesterday it was 'Napoleon, France, bravoure';
yesterday, 'Alexandre, Russie, grandeur.' One day our Emperor gives it
and next day Napoleon. Tomorrow our Emperor will send a St. George's
Cross to the bravest of the French Guards. It has to be done. He
must respond in kind."

Boris, too, with his friend Zhilinski, came to see the Preobrazhensk
banquet. On his way back, he noticed Rostov standing by the corner
of a house.

"Rostov! How d'you do? We missed one another," he said, and could
not refrain from asking what was the matter, so strangely dismal and
troubled was Rostov's face.

"Nothing, nothing," replied Rostov.

"You'll call round?"

"Yes, I will."

Rostov stood at that corner for a long time, watching the feast from
a distance. a distance. In his mind, a painful process was going on
which he could not bring to a conclusion. Terrible doubts rose in
his soul. Now he remembered Denisov with his changed expression, his
submission, and the whole hospital, with arms and legs torn off and
its dirt and disease. So vividly did he recall that hospital stench of
dead flesh that he looked round to see where the smell came from. Next
he thought of that self-satisfied Bonaparte, with his small white
hand, who was now an Emperor, liked and respected by Alexander. Then
why those severed arms and legs and those dead men?... Then again he
thought of Lazarev rewarded and Denisov punished and unpardoned. He
caught himself harboring such strange thoughts that he was frightened.

The smell of the food the Preobrazhenskis were eating and a sense of
hunger recalled him from these reflections; he had to get something to
eat before going away. He went to a hotel he had noticed that morning.
There he found so many people, among them officers who, like
himself, had come in civilian clothes, that he had difficulty in
getting a dinner. Two officers of his own division joined him. The
conversation naturally turned on the peace. The officers, his
comrades, like most of the army, were dissatisfied with the peace
concluded after the battle of Friedland. They said that had we held
out a little longer Napoleon would have been done for, as his troops
had neither provisions nor ammunition. Nicholas ate and drank (chiefly
the latter) in silence. He finished a couple of bottles of wine by
himself. The process in his mind went on tormenting him without
reaching a conclusion. He feared to give way to his thoughts, yet
could not get rid of them. Suddenly, on one of the officers' saying
that it was humiliating to look at the French, Rostov began shouting
with uncalled-for wrath, and therefore much to the surprise of the
officers:

"How can you judge what's best?" he cried, the blood suddenly
rushing to his face. "How can you judge the Emperor's actions? What
right have we to argue? We cannot comprehend either the Emperor's or
his actions!"

"But I never said a word about the Emperor!" said the officer,
justifying himself, and unable to understand Rostov's outburst, except
on the supposition that he was drunk.

But Rostov did not listen to him.

"We are not diplomatic officials, we are soldiers and nothing more,"
he went on. "If we are ordered to die, we must die. If we're punished,
it means that we have deserved it, it's not for us to judge. If the
Emperor pleases to recognize Bonaparte as Emperor and to conclude an
alliance with him, it means that that is the right thing to do. If
once we begin judging and arguing about everything, nothing sacred
will be left! That way we shall be saying there is no God- nothing!"
shouted Nicholas, banging the table- very little to the point as it
seemed to his listeners, but quite relevantly to the course of his own
thoughts.

"Our business is to do our duty, to fight and not to think! That's
all...." said he.

"And to drink," said one of the officers, not wishing to quarrel.

"Yes, and to drink," assented Nicholas. "Hullo there! Another
bottle!" he shouted.

In 1808 the Emperor Alexander went to Erfurt for a fresh interview
with the Emperor Napoleon, and in the upper circles of Petersburg
there was much talk of the grandeur of this important meeting.

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Rostov had come to Tilsit the day least suitable for a petition onDenisov's behalf. He could not himself go to the general in attendanceas he was in mufti and had come to Tilsit without permission to do so,and Boris, even had he wished to, could not have done so on thefollowing day. On that day, June 27, the preliminaries of peace weresigned. The Emperors exchanged decorations: Alexander received theCross of the Legion of Honor and Napoleon the Order of St. Andrew ofthe First Degree, and a dinner had been arranged for the evening,given by a battalion of the French Guards to
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