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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 21
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 21 Post by :bigmiffa Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :792

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 21

Pierre stepped out of his carriage and, passing the toiling
militiamen, ascended the knoll from which, according to the doctor,
the battlefield could be seen.

It was about eleven o'clock. The sun shone somewhat to the left
and behind him and brightly lit up the enormous panorama which, rising
like an amphitheater, extended before him in the clear rarefied

From above on the left, bisecting that amphitheater, wound the
Smolensk highroad, passing through a village with a white church
some five hundred paces in front of the knoll and below it. This was
Borodino. Below the village the road crossed the river by a bridge
and, winding down and up, rose higher and higher to the village of
Valuevo visible about four miles away, where Napoleon was then
stationed. Beyond Valuevo the road disappeared into a yellowing forest
on the horizon. Far in the distance in that birch and fir forest to
the right of the road, the cross and belfry of the Kolocha Monastery
gleamed in the sun. Here and there over the whole of that blue
expanse, to right and left of the forest and the road, smoking
campfires could be seen and indefinite masses of troops- ours and
the enemy's. The ground to the right- along the course of the
Kolocha and Moskva rivers- was broken and hilly. Between the hollows
the villages of Bezubova and Zakharino showed in the distance. On
the left the ground was more level; there were fields of grain, and
the smoking ruins of Semenovsk, which had been burned down, could be

All that Pierre saw was so indefinite that neither the left nor
the right side of the field fully satisfied his expectations.
Nowhere could he see the battlefield he had expected to find, but only
fields, meadows, troops, woods, the smoke of campfires, villages,
mounds, and streams; and try as he would he could descry no military
"position" in this place which teemed with life, nor could he even
distinguish our troops from the enemy's.

"I must ask someone who knows," he thought, and addressed an officer
who was looking with curiosity at his huge unmilitary figure.

"May I ask you," said Pierre, "what village that is in front?"

"Burdino, isn't it?" said the officer, turning to his companion.

"Borodino," the other corrected him.

The officer, evidently glad of an opportunity for a talk, moved up
to Pierre.

"Are those our men there?" Pierre inquired.

"Yes, and there, further on, are the French," said the officer.
"There they are, there... you can see them."

"Where? Where?" asked Pierre.

"One can see them with the naked eye... Why, there!"

The officer pointed with his hand to the smoke visible on the left
beyond the river, and the same stern and serious expression that
Pierre had noticed on many of the faces he had met came into his face.

"Ah, those are the French! And over there?..." Pierre pointed to a
knoll on the left, near which some troops could be seen.

"Those are ours."

"Ah, ours! And there?..." Pierre pointed to another knoll in the
distance with a big tree on it, near a village that lay in a hollow
where also some campfires were smoking and something black was

"That's his again," said the officer. (It was the Shevardino
Redoubt.) "It was ours yesterday, but now it is his."

"Then how about our position?"

"Our position?" replied the officer with a smile of satisfaction. "I
can tell you quite clearly, because I constructed nearly all our
entrenchments. There, you see? There's our center, at Borodino, just
there," and he pointed to the village in front of them with the
white church. "That's where one crosses the Kolocha. You see down
there where the rows of hay are lying in the hollow, there's the
bridge. That's our center. Our right flank is over there"- he
pointed sharply to the right, far away in the broken ground- "That's
where the Moskva River is, and we have thrown up three redoubts there,
very strong ones. The left flank..." here the officer paused. "Well,
you see, that's difficult to explain.... Yesterday our left flank
was there at Shevardino, you see, where the oak is, but now we have
withdrawn our left wing- now it is over there, do you see that village
and the smoke? That's Semenovsk, yes, there," he pointed to
Raevski's knoll. "But the battle will hardly be there. His having
moved his troops there is only a ruse; he will probably pass round
to the right of the Moskva. But wherever it may be, many a man will be
missing tomorrow!" he remarked.

An elderly sergeant who had approached the officer while he was
giving these explanations had waited in silence for him to finish
speaking, but at this point, evidently not liking the officer's
remark, interrupted him.

"Gabions must be sent for," said he sternly.

The officer appeared abashed, as though he understood that one might
think of how many men would be missing tomorrow but ought not to speak
to speak of it.

"Well, send number three company again," the officer replied

"And you, are you one of the doctors?"

"No, I've come on my own," answered Pierre, and he went down the
hill again, passing the militiamen.

"Oh, those damned fellows!" muttered the officer who followed him,
holding his nose as he ran past the men at work.

"There they are... bringing her, coming... There they are... They'll
be here in a minute..." voices were suddenly heard saying; and
officers, soldiers, and militiamen began running forward along the

A church procession was coming up the hill from Borodino. First
along the dusty road came the infantry in ranks, bareheaded and with
arms reversed. From behind them came the sound of church singing.

Soldiers and militiamen ran bareheaded past Pierre toward the

"They are bringing her, our Protectress!... The Iberian Mother of
God!" someone cried.

"The Smolensk Mother of God," another corrected him.

The militiamen, both those who had been in the village and those who
had been at work on the battery, threw down their spades and ran to
meet the church procession. Following the battalion that marched along
the dusty road came priests in their vestments- one little old man
in a hood with attendants and singers. Behind them soldiers and
officers bore a large, dark-faced icon with an embossed metal cover.
This was the icon that had been brought from and had since accompanied
the army. Behind, before, and on both sides, crowds of militiamen with
bared heads walked, ran, and bowed to the ground.

At the summit of the hill they stopped with the icon; the men who
had been holding it up by the linen bands attached to it were relieved
by others, the chanters relit their censers, and service began. The
hot rays of the sun beat down vertically and a fresh soft wind
played with the hair of the bared heads and with the ribbons
decorating the icon. The singing did not sound loud under the open
sky. An immense crowd of bareheaded officers, soldiers, and militiamen
surrounded the icon. Behind the priest and a chanter stood the
notabilities on a spot reserved for them. A bald general with
general with a St. George's Cross on his neck stood just behind the
priest's back, and without crossing himself (he was evidently a
German) patiently awaited the end of the service, which he
considered it necessary to hear to the end, probably to arouse the
patriotism of the Russian people. Another general stood in a martial
pose, crossing himself by shaking his hand in front of his chest while
looking about him. Standing among the crowd of peasants, Pierre
recognized several acquaintances among these notables, but did not
look at them- his whole attention was absorbed in watching the serious
expression on the faces of the crowd of soldiers and militiamen who
were all gazing eagerly at the icon. As soon as the tired chanters,
who were singing the service for the twentieth time that day, began
lazily and mechanically to sing: "Save from calamity Thy servants, O
Mother of God," and the priest and deacon chimed in: "For to Thee
under God we all flee as to an inviolable bulwark and protection,"
there again kindled in all those faces the same expression of
consciousness of the solemnity of the impending moment that Pierre had
seen on the faces at the foot of the hill at Mozhaysk and
momentarily on many and many faces he had met that morning; and
heads were bowed more frequently and hair tossed back, and sighs and
the sound men made as they crossed themselves were heard.

The crowd round the icon suddenly parted and pressed against Pierre.
Someone, a very important personage judging by the haste with which
way was made for him, was approaching the icon.

It was Kutuzov, who had been riding round the position and on his
way back to Tatarinova had stopped where the service was being held.
Pierre recognized him at once by his peculiar figure, which
distinguished him from everybody else.

With a long overcoat on his his exceedingly stout,
round-shouldered body, with uncovered white head and puffy face
showing the white ball of the eye he had lost, Kutuzov walked with
plunging, swaying gait into the crowd and stopped behind the priest.
He crossed himself with an accustomed movement, bent till he touched
the ground with his hand, and bowed his white head with a deep sigh.
Behind Kutuzov was Bennigsen and the suite. Despite the presence of
the commander in chief, who attracted the attention of all the
superior officers, the militiamen and soldiers continued their prayers
without looking at him.

When the service was over, Kutuzov stepped up to the icon, sank
heavily to his knees, bowed to the ground, and for a long time tried
vainly to rise, but could not do so on account of his weakness and
weight. His white head twitched with the effort. At last he rose,
kissed the icon as a child does with naively pouting lips, and again
bowed till he touched the ground with his hand. The other generals
followed his example, then the officers, and after them with excited
faces, pressing on one another, crowding, panting, and pushing,
scrambled the soldiers and militiamen.

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 22 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 22

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 22
Staggering amid the crush, Pierre looked about him."Count Peter Kirilovich! How did you get here?" said a voice.Pierre looked round. Boris Drubetskoy, brushing his knees with hishand (he had probably soiled them when he, too, had knelt before theicon), came up to him smiling. Boris was elegantly dressed, with aslightly martial touch appropriate to a campaign. He wore a longcoat and like Kutuzov had a whip slung across his shoulder.Meanwhile Kutuzov had reached the village and seated himself inthe shade of the nearest house, on a bench which one Cossack had runto fetch and another had hastily covered with a rug.

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 20 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 20

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 20
On the morning of the twenty-fifth Pierre was leaving Mozhaysk. Atthe descent of the high steep hill, down which a winding road ledout of the town past the cathedral on the right a service wasbeing held and the bells were ringing, Pierre got out of his vehicleand proceeded on foot. Behind him a cavalry regiment was coming downthe hill preceded by its singers. Coming up toward him was a trainof carts carrying men who had been wounded in the engagement the daybefore. The peasant drivers, shouting and lashing their horses, keptcrossing from side to side. The carts, in each of