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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24 Post by :lyka120 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1431

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 24

On that bright evening of August 25, Prince Andrew lay leaning on
his elbow in a broken-down shed in the village of Knyazkovo 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 Timokhin, formerly Dolokhov'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 Drubetskaya told me so. I went to see them,
but missed them. They have gone to your estate near Moscow."

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The officers were about to take leave, but Prince Andrew, apparentlyreluctant to be left alone with his friend, asked them to stay andhave tea. Seats were brought in and so was the tea. The officers gazedwith surprise at Pierre's huge stout figure and listened to his talkof Moscow and the position of our army, round which he had ridden.Prince Andrew remained silent, and his expression was so forbiddingthat Pierre addressed his remarks chiefly to the good-naturedbattalion commander."So you understand the whole position of our troops?" PrinceAndrew interrupted him."Yes- that is, how do you mean?" said Pierre. "Not being amilitary man I
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From Gorki, Bennigsen descended the highroad to the bridge which,when they had looked it from the hill, the officer had pointed outas being the center of our position and where rows of fragrantnew-mown hay lay by the riverside. They rode across that bridge intothe village of Borodino and thence turned to the left, passing anenormous number of troops and guns, and came to a high knoll wheremilitiamen were digging. This was the redoubt, as yet unnamed, whichafterwards became known as the Raevski Redoubt, or the KnollBattery, but Pierre paid no special attention to it. He did not knowthat it would become
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