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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 10
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 10 Post by :dosmanos Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2211

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 10 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 10

At dawn on the sixteenth of November, Denisov's squadron, in which
Nicholas Rostov served and which was in Prince Bagration's detachment,
moved from the place where it had spent the night, advancing into
action as arranged, and after going behind other columns for about two
thirds of a mile was stopped on the highroad. Rostov saw the
Cossacks and then the first and second squadrons of hussars and
infantry battalions and artillery pass by and go forward and then
Generals Bagration and Dolgorukov ride past with their adjutants.
All the fear before action which he had experienced as previously, all
the inner struggle to conquer that fear, all his dreams of
distinguishing himself as a true hussar in this battle, had been
wasted. Their squadron remained in reserve and Nicholas Rostov spent
that day in a dull and wretched mood. At nine in the morning, he heard
firing in front and shouts of hurrah, and saw wounded being brought
back (there were not many of them), and at last he saw how a whole
detachment of French cavalry was brought in, convoyed by a sontnya
of Cossacks. Evidently the affair was over and, though not big, had
been a successful engagement. The men and officers returning spoke
of a brilliant victory, of the occupation of the town of Wischau and
the capture of a whole French squadron. The day was bright and sunny
after a sharp night frost, and the cheerful glitter of that autumn day
was in keeping with the news of victory which was conveyed, not only
by the tales of those who had taken part in it, but also by the joyful
expression on the faces of soldiers, officers, generals, and
adjutants, as they passed Rostov going or coming. And Nicholas, who
had vainly suffered all the dread that precedes a battle and had spent
that happy day in inactivity, was all the more depressed.

"Come here, Wostov. Let's dwink to dwown our gwief!" shouted
Denisov, who had settled down by the roadside with a flask and some
food.

The officers gathered round Denisov's canteen, eating and talking.

"There! They are bringing another!" cried one of the officers,
indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot
by two Cossacks.

One of them was leading by the bridle a fine large French horse he
had taken from the prisoner.

"Sell us that horse!" Denisov called out to the Cossacks.

"If you like, your honor!"

The officers got up and stood round the Cossacks and their prisoner.
The French dragoon was a young Alsatian who spoke French with a German
accent. He was breathless with agitation, his face was red, and when
he heard some French spoken he at once began speaking to the officers,
addressing first one, then another. He said he would not have been
taken, it was not his fault but the corporal's who had sent him to
seize some horsecloths, though he had told him the Russians were
there. And at every word he added: "But don't hurt my little horse!"
and stroked the animal. It was plain that he did not quite grasp where
he was. Now he excused himself for having been taken prisoner and now,
imagining himself before his own officers, insisted on his soldierly
discipline and zeal in the service. He brought with him into our
rearguard all the freshness of atmosphere of the French army, which
was so alien to us.

The Cossacks sold the horse for two gold pieces, and Rostov, being
the richest of the officers now that he had received his money, bought
it.

"But don't hurt my little horse!" said the Alsatian good-naturedly
to Rostov when the animal was handed over to the hussar.

Rostov smilingly reassured the dragoon and gave him money.

"Alley! Alley!" said the Cossack, touching the prisoner's arm to
make him go on.

"The Emperor! The Emperor!" was suddenly heard among the hussars.

All began to run and bustle, and Rostov saw coming up the road
behind him several riders with white plumes in their hats. In a moment
everyone was in his place, waiting.

Rostov did not know or remember how he ran to his place and mounted.
Instantly his regret at not having been in action and his dejected
mood amid people of whom he was weary had gone, instantly every
thought of himself had vanished. He was filled with happiness at his
nearness to the Emperor. He felt that this nearness by itself made
up to him for the day he had lost. He was happy as a lover when the
longed-for moment of meeting arrives. Not daring to look round and
without looking round, he was ecstatically conscious of his
approach. He felt it not only from the sound of the hoofs of the
approaching cavalcade, but because as he drew near everything grew
brighter, more joyful, more significant, and more festive around
him. Nearer and nearer to Rostov came that sun shedding beams of
mild and majestic light around, and already he felt himself
enveloped in those beams, he heard his voice, that kindly, calm, and
majestic voice that was yet so simple! And as if in accord with
Rostov's feeling, there was a deathly stillness amid which was heard
the Emperor's voice.

"The Pavlograd hussars?" he inquired.

"The reserves, sire!" replied a voice, a very human one compared
to that which had said: "The Pavlograd hussars?"

The Emperor drew level with Rostov and halted. Alexander's face
was even more beautiful than it had been three days before at the
review. It shone with such gaiety and youth, such innocent youth, that
it suggested the liveliness of a fourteen-year-old boy, and yet it was
the face of the majestic Emperor. Casually, while surveying the
squadron, the Emperor's eyes met Rostov's and rested on them for not
more than two seconds. Whether or no the Emperor understood what was
going on in Rostov's soul (it seemed to Rostov that he understood
everything), at any rate his light-blue eyes gazed for about two
seconds into Rostov's face. A gentle, mild light poured from them.
Then all at once he raised his eyebrows, abruptly touched his horse
with his left foot, and galloped on.

The younger Emperor could not restrain his wish to be present at the
battle and, in spite of the remonstrances of his courtiers, at
twelve o'clock left the third column with which he had been and
galloped toward the vanguard. Before he came up with the hussars,
several adjutants met him with news of the successful result of the
action.

This battle, which consisted in the capture of a French squadron,
was represented as a brilliant victory over the French, and so the
Emperor and the whole army, especially while the smoke hung over the
battlefield, believed that the French had been defeated and were
retreating against their will. A few minutes after the Emperor had
passed, the Pavlograd division was ordered to advance. In Wischau
itself, a petty German town, Rostov saw the Emperor again. In the
market place, where there had been some rather heavy firing before the
Emperor's arrival, lay several killed and wounded soldiers whom
there had not been time to move. The Emperor, surrounded by his
suite of officers and courtiers, was riding a bobtailed chestnut mare,
a different one from that which he had ridden at the review, and
bending to one side he gracefully held a gold lorgnette to his eyes
and looked at a soldier who lay prone, with blood on his uncovered
head. The wounded soldier was so dirty, coarse, and revolting that his
proximity to the Emperor shocked Rostov. Rostov saw how the
Emperor's rather round shoulders shuddered as if a cold shiver had run
down them, how his left foot began convulsively tapping the horse's
side with the spur, and how the well-trained horse looked round
unconcerned and did not stir. An adjutant, dismounting, lifted the
soldier under the arms to place him on a stretcher that had been
brought. The soldier groaned.

"Gently, gently! Can't you do it more gently?" said the Emperor
apparently suffering more than the dying soldier, and he rode away.

Rostov saw tears filling the Emperor's eyes and heard him, as he was
riding away, say to Czartoryski: "What a terrible thing war is: what a
terrible thing! Quelle terrible chose que la guerre!"

The troops of the vanguard were stationed before Wischau, within
sight of the enemy's lines, which all day long had yielded ground to
us at the least firing. The Emperor's gratitude was announced to the
vanguard, rewards were promised, and the men received a double
ration of vodka. The campfires crackled and the soldiers' songs
resounded even more merrily than on the previous night. Denisov
celebrated his promotion to the rank of major, and Rostov, who had
already drunk enough, at the end of the feast proposed the Emperor's
health. "Not 'our Sovereign, the Emperor,' as they say at official
dinners," said he, "but the health of our Sovereign, that good,
enchanting, and great man! Let us drink to his health and to the
certain defeat of the French!"

"If we fought before," he said, "not letting the French pass, as
at Schon Grabern, what shall we not do now when he is at the front? We
will all die for him gladly! Is it not so, gentlemen? Perhaps I am not
saying it right, I have drunk a good deal- but that is how I feel, and
so do you too! To the health of Alexander the First! Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!" rang the enthusiastic voices of the officers.

And the old cavalry captain, Kirsten, shouted enthusiastically and
no less sincerely than the twenty-year-old Rostov.

When the officers had emptied and smashed their glasses, Kirsten
filled others and, in shirt sleeves and breeches, went glass in hand
to the soldiers' bonfires and with his long gray mustache, his white
chest showing under his open shirt, he stood in a majestic pose in the
light of the campfire, waving his uplifted arm.

"Lads! here's to our Sovereign, the Emperor, and victory over our
enemies! Hurrah!" he exclaimed in his dashing, old, hussar's baritone.

The hussars crowded round and responded heartily with loud shouts.

Late that night, when all had separated, Denisov with his short hand
patted his favorite, Rostov, on the shoulder.

"As there's no one to fall in love with on campaign, he's fallen
in love with the Tsar," he said.

"Denisov, don't make fun of it!" cried Rostov. "It is such a
lofty, beautiful feeling, such a..."

"I believe it, I believe it, fwiend, and I share and appwove..."

"No, you don't understand!"

And Rostov got up and went wandering among the campfires, dreaming
of what happiness it would be to die- not in saving the Emperor's life
(he did not even dare to dream of that), but simply to die before
his eyes. He really was in love with the Tsar and the glory of the
Russian arms and the hope of future triumph. And he was not the only
man to experience that feeling during those memorable days preceding
the battle of Austerlitz: nine tenths of the men in the Russian army
were then in love, though less ecstatically, with their Tsar and the
glory of the Russian arms.

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