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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 5
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 5 Post by :RobertGJordan Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1596

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 5 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 5

Davout was to Napoleon what Arakcheev was to Alexander- though not a
coward like Arakcheev, he was as precise, as cruel, and as unable to
express his devotion to his monarch except by cruelty.

In the organism of states such men are necessary, as wolves are
necessary in the organism of nature, and they always exist, always
appear and hold their own, however incongruous their presence and
their proximity to the head of the government may be. This
inevitability alone can explain how the cruel Arakcheev, who tore
out a grenadier's mustache with his own hands, whose weak nerves
rendered him unable to face danger, and who was neither an educated
man nor a courtier, was able to maintain his powerful position with
Alexander, whose own character was chivalrous, noble, and gentle.

Balashev found Davout seated on a barrel in the shed of a
peasant's hut, writing- he was auditing accounts. Better quarters
could have been found him, but Marshal Davout was one of those men who
purposely put themselves in most depressing conditions to have a
justification for being gloomy. For the same reason they are always
hard at work and in a hurry. "How can I think of the bright side of
life when, as you see, I am sitting on a barrel and working in a dirty
shed?" the expression of his face seemed to say. The chief pleasure
and necessity of such men, when they encounter anyone who shows
animation, is to flaunt their own dreary, persistent activity.
Davout allowed himself that pleasure when Balashev was brought in.
He became still more absorbed in his task when the Russian general
entered, and after glancing over his spectacles at Balashev's face,
which was animated by the beauty of the morning and by his talk with
Murat, he did not rise or even stir, but scowled still more and
sneered malevolently.

When he noticed in Balashev's face the disagreeable impression
this reception produced, Davout raised his head and coldly asked
what he wanted.

Thinking he could have been received in such a manner only because
Davout did not know that he was adjutant general to the Emperor
Alexander and even his envoy to Napoleon, Balashev hastened to
inform him of his rank and mission. Contrary to his expectation,
Davout, after hearing him, became still surlier and ruder.

"Where is your dispatch?" he inquired. "Give it to me. I will send
it to the Emperor."

Balashev replied that he had been ordered to hand it personally to
the Emperor.

"Your Emperor's orders are obeyed in your army, but here," said
Davout, "you must do as you're told."

And, as if to make the Russian general still more conscious of his
dependence on brute force, Davout sent an adjutant to call the officer
on duty.

Balashev took out the packet containing the Emperor's letter and
laid it on the table (made of a door with its hinges still hanging
on it, laid across two barrels). Davout took the packet and read the
inscription.

"You are perfectly at liberty to treat me with respect or not,"
protested Balashev, "but permit me to observe that I have the honor to
be adjutant general to His Majesty...."

Davout glanced at him silently and plainly derived pleasure from the
signs of agitation and confusion which appeared on Balashev's face.

"You will be treated as is fitting," said he and, putting the packet
in his pocket, left the shed.

A minute later the marshal's adjutant, de Castres, came in and
conducted Balashev to the quarters assigned him.

That day he dined with the marshal, at the same board on the
barrels.

Next day Davout rode out early and, after asking Balashev to come to
him, peremptorily requested him to remain there, to move on with the
baggage train should orders come for it to move, and to talk to no one
except Monsieur de Castres.

After four days of solitude, ennui, and consciousness of his
impotence and insignificance- particularly acute by contrast with
the sphere of power in which he had so lately moved- and after several
marches with the marshal's baggage and the French army, which occupied
the whole district, Balashev was brought to Vilna- now occupied by the
French- through the very gate by which he had left it four days
previously.

Next day the imperial gentleman-in-waiting, the Comte de Turenne,
came to Balashev and informed him of the Emperor Napoleon's wish to
honor him with an audience.

Four days before, sentinels of the Preobrazhensk regiment had
stood in front of the house to which Balashev was conducted, and now
two French grenadiers stood there in blue uniforms unfastened in front
and with shaggy caps on their heads, and an escort of hussars and
Uhlans and a brilliant suite of aides-de-camp, pages, and generals,
who were waiting for Napoleon to come out, were standing at the porch,
round his saddle horse and his Mameluke, Rustan. Napoleon received
Balashev in the very house in Vilna from which Alexander had
dispatched him on his mission.

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Though Balashev was used to imperial pomp, he was amazed at theluxury and magnificence of Napoleon's court.The Comte de Turenne showed him into a big reception room where manygenerals, gentlemen-in-waiting, and Polish magnates- several of whomBalashev had seen at the court of the Emperor of Russia- were waiting.Duroc said that Napoleon would receive the Russian general beforegoing for his ride.After some minutes, the gentleman-in-waiting who was on duty cameinto the great reception room and, bowing politely, asked Balashevto follow him.Balashev went into a small reception room, one door of which ledinto a study, the very one from which the Russian Emperor
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At two in the morning of the fourteenth of June, the Emperor, havingsent for Balashev and read him his letter to Napoleon, ordered himto take it and hand it personally to the French Emperor. Whendispatching Balashev, the Emperor repeated to him the words that hewould not make peace so long as a single armed enemy remained onRussian soil and told him to transmit those words to Napoleon.Alexander did not insert them in his letter to Napoleon, becausewith his characteristic tact he felt it would be injudicious to usethem at a moment when a last attempt at reconciliation was being made,but he
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