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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 29
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 29 Post by :Jeff_Walker Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2218

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 29

On returning from a second inspection of the lines, Napoleon

"The chessmen are set up, the game will begin tomorrow!"

Having ordered punch and summoned de Beausset, he began to talk to
him about Paris and about some changes he meant to make the Empress'
household, surprising the prefect by his memory of minute details
relating to the court.

He showed an interest in trifles, joked about de Beausset's love
of travel, and chatted carelessly, as a famous, self-confident surgeon
who knows his job does when turning up his sleeves and putting on
his apron while a patient is being strapped to the operating table.
"The matter is in my hands and is clear and definite in my head.
When the times comes to set to work I shall do it as no one else
could, but now I can jest, and the more I jest and the calmer I am the
more tranquil and confident you ought to be, and the more amazed at my

Having finished his second glass of punch, Napoleon went to rest
before the serious business which, he considered, awaited him next
day. He was so much interested in that task that he was unable to
sleep, and in spite of his cold which had grown worse from the
dampness of the evening, he went into the large division of the tent
at three o'clock in the morning, loudly blowing his nose. He asked
whether the Russians had not withdrawn, and was told that the
enemy's fires were still in the same places. He nodded approval.

The adjutant in attendance came into the tent.

"Well, Rapp, do you think we shall do good business today?" Napoleon
asked him.

"Without doubt, sire," replied Rapp.

Napoleon looked at him.

"Do you remember, sire, what you did me the honor to say at
Smolensk?" continued Rapp. "The wine is drawn and must be drunk."

Napoleon frowned and sat silent for a long time leaning his head
on his hand.

"This poor army!" he suddenly remarked. "It has diminished greatly
since Smolensk. Fortune is frankly a courtesan, Rapp. I have always
said so and I am beginning to experience it. But the Guards, Rapp, the
Guards are intact?" he remarked interrogatively.

"Yes, sire," replied Rapp.

Napoleon took a lozenge, put it in his mouth, and glanced at his
watch. He was not sleepy and it was still not nearly morning. It was
impossible to give further orders for the sake of killing time, for
the orders had all been given and were now being executed.

"Have the biscuits and rice been served out to the regiments of
the Guards?" asked Napoleon sternly.

"Yes, sire."

"The rice too?"

Rapp replied that he had given the Emperor's order about the rice,
but Napoleon shook his head in dissatisfaction as if not believing
that his order had been executed. An attendant came in with punch.
Napoleon ordered another glass to be brought for Rapp, and silently
sipped his own.

"I have neither taste nor smell," he remarked, sniffing at his
glass. "This cold is tiresome. They talk about medicine- what is the
good of medicine when it can't cure a cold! Corvisart gave me these
lozenges but they don't help at all. What can doctors cure? One
can't cure anything. Our body is a machine for living. It is organized
for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it
defend itself, it will do more than if you paralyze it by
encumbering it with remedies. Our body is like a perfect watch that
should go for a certain time; watchmaker cannot open it, he can only
adjust it by fumbling, and that blindfold.... Yes, our body is just
a machine for living, that is all."

And having entered on the path of definition, of which he was
fond, Napoleon suddenly and unexpectedly gave a new one.

"Do you know, Rapp, what military art is?" asked he. "It is the
art of being stronger than the enemy at a given moment. That's all."

Rapp made no reply.

"Tomorrow we shall have to deal with Kutuzov!" said Napoleon. "We
shall see! Do you remember at Braunau he commanded an army for three
weeks and did not once mount a horse to inspect his
entrenchments.... We shall see!"

He looked at his watch. It was still only four o'clock. He did not
feel sleepy. The punch was finished and there was still nothing to do.
He rose, walked to and fro, put on a warm overcoat and a hat, and went
out of the tent. The night was dark and damp, a scarcely perceptible
moisture was descending from above. Near by, the campfires were
dimly burning among the French Guards, and in the distance those of
the Russian line shone through the smoke. The weather was calm, and
the rustle and tramp of the French troops already beginning to move to
take up their positions were clearly audible.

Napoleon walked about in front of his tent, looked at the fires
and listened to these sounds, and as he was passing a tall guardsman
in a shaggy cap, who was standing sentinel before his tent and had
drawn himself up like a black pillar at sight of the Emperor, Napoleon
stopped in front of him.

"What year did you enter the service?" he asked with that
affectation of military bluntness and geniality with which he always
addressed the soldiers.

The man answered the question.

"Ah! One of the old ones! Has your regiment had its rice?"

"It has, Your Majesty."

Napoleon nodded and walked away.

At half-past five Napoleon rode to the village of Shevardino.

It was growing light, the sky was clearing, only a single cloud
lay in the east. The abandoned campfires were burning themselves out
in the faint morning light.

On the right a single deep report of a cannon resounded and died
away in the prevailing silence. Some minutes passed. A second and a
third report shook the air, then a fourth and a fifth boomed
solemnly near by on the right.

The first shots had not yet ceased to reverberate before others rang
out and yet more were heard mingling with and overtaking one another.

Napoleon with his suite rode up to the Shevardino Redoubt where he
dismounted. The game had begun.

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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 30 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 30

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 30
On returning to Gorki after having seen Prince Andrew, Pierreordered his groom to get the horses ready and to call him early in themorning, and then immediately fell asleep behind a partition in acorner Boris had given up to him.Before he was thoroughly awake next morning everybody had alreadyleft the hut. The panes were rattling in the little windows and hisgroom was shaking him."Your excellency! Your excellency! Your excellency!" he keptrepeating pertinaciously while he shook Pierre by the shoulder withoutlooking at him, having apparently lost hope of getting him to wake up."What? Has it begun? Is it time?" Pierre asked, waking

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 28 War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 28

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 28
Many historians say that the French did not win the battle ofBorodino because Napoleon had a cold, and that if he had not had acold the orders he gave before and during the battle would have beenstill more full of genius and Russia would have been lost and the faceof the world have been changed. To historians who believe thatRussia was shaped by the will of one man- Peter the Great- and thatFrance from a republic became an empire and French armies went toRussia at the will of one man- Napoleon- to say that Russia remained apower because Napoleon had a