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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 12
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 12 Post by :rameses Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2969

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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 12

Shortly after nine o'clock that evening, Weyrother drove with his
plans to Kutuzov's quarters where the council of war was to be held.
All the commanders of columns were summoned to the commander in
chief's and with the exception of Prince Bagration, who declined to
come, were all there at the appointed time.

Weyrother, who was in full control of the proposed battle, by his
eagerness and briskness presented a marked contrast to the
dissatisfied and drowsy Kutuzov, who reluctantly played the part of
chairman and president of the council of war. Weyrother evidently felt
himself to be at the head of a movement that had already become
unrestrainable. He was like a horse running downhill harnessed to a
heavy cart. Whether he was pulling it or being pushed by it he did not
know, but rushed along at headlong speed with no time to consider what
this movement might lead to. Weyrother had been twice that evening
to the enemy's picket line to reconnoiter personally, and twice to the
Emperors, Russian and Austrian, to report and explain, and to his
headquarters where he had dictated the dispositions in German, and
now, much exhausted, he arrived at Kutuzov's.

He was evidently so busy that he even forgot to be polite to the
commander in chief. He interrupted him, talked rapidly and
indistinctly, without looking at the man he was addressing, and did
not reply to questions put to him. He was bespattered with mud and had
a pitiful, weary, and distracted air, though at the same time he was
haughty and self-confident.

Kutuzov was occupying a nobleman's castle of modest dimensions
near Ostralitz. In the large drawing room which had become the
commander in chief's office were gathered Kutuzov himself,
Weyrother, and the members of the council of war. They were drinking
tea, and only awaited Prince Bagration to begin the council. At last
Bagration's orderly came with the news that the prince could not
attend. Prince Andrew came in to inform the commander in chief of this
and, availing himself of permission previously given him by Kutuzov to
be present at the council, he remained in the room.

"Since Prince Bagration is not coming, we may begin," said
Weyrother, hurriedly rising from his seat and going up to the table on
which an enormous map of the environs of Brunn was spread out.

Kutuzov, with his uniform unbuttoned so that his fat neck bulged
over his collar as if escaping, was sitting almost asleep in a low
chair, with his podgy old hands resting symmetrically on its arms.
At the sound of Weyrother's voice, he opened his one eye with an
effort.

"Yes, yes, if you please! It is already late," said he, and
nodding his head he let it droop and again closed his eye.

If at first the members of the council thought that Kutuzov was
pretending to sleep, the sounds his nose emitted during the reading
that followed proved that the commander in chief at that moment was
absorbed by a far more serious matter than a desire to show his
contempt for the dispositions or anything else- he was engaged in
satisfying the irresistible human need for sleep. He really was
asleep. Weyrother, with the gesture of a man too busy to lose a
moment, glanced at Kutuzov and, having convinced himself that he was
asleep, took up a paper and in a loud, monotonous voice began to
read out the dispositions for the impending battle, under a heading
which he also read out:

"Dispositions for an attack on the enemy position behind Kobelnitz
and Sokolnitz, November 30, 1805."

The dispositions were very complicated and difficult. They began
as follows:

"As the enemy's left wing rests on wooded hills and his right
extends along Kobelnitz and Sokolnitz behind the ponds that are there,
while we, on the other hand, with our left wing by far outflank his
right, it is advantageous to attack the enemy's latter wing especially
if we occupy the villages of Sokolnitz and Kobelnitz, whereby we can
both fall on his flank and pursue him over the plain between
Schlappanitz and the Thuerassa forest, avoiding the defiles of
Schlappanitz and Bellowitz which cover the enemy's front. For this
object it is necessary that... The first column marches... The
second column marches... The third column marches..." and so on,
read Weyrother.

The generals seemed to listen reluctantly to the difficult
dispositions. The tall, fair-haired General Buxhowden stood, leaning
his back against the wall, his eyes fixed on a burning candle, and
seemed not to listen or even to wish to be thought to listen.
Exactly opposite Weyrother, with his glistening wide-open eyes fixed
upon him and his mustache twisted upwards, sat the ruddy
Miloradovich in a military pose, his elbows turned outwards, his hands
on his knees, and his shoulders raised. He remained stubbornly silent,
gazing at Weyrother's face, and only turned away his eyes when the
Austrian chief of staff finished reading. Then Miloradovich looked
round significantly at the other generals. But one could not tell from
that significant look whether he agreed or disagreed and was satisfied
or not with the arrangements. Next to Weyrother sat Count Langeron
who, with a subtle smile that never left his typically southern French
face during the whole time of the reading, gazed at his delicate
fingers which rapidly twirled by its corners a gold snuffbox on
which was a portrait. In the middle of one of the longest sentences,
he stopped the rotary motion of the snuffbox, raised his head, and
with inimical politeness lurking in the corners of his thin lips
interrupted Weyrother, wishing to say something. But the Austrian
general, continuing to read, frowned angrily and jerked his elbows, as
if to say: "You can tell me your views later, but now be so good as to
look at the map and listen." Langeron lifted his eyes with an
expression of perplexity, turned round to Miloradovich as if seeking
an explanation, but meeting the latter's impressive but meaningless
gaze drooped his eyes sadly and again took to twirling his snuffbox.

"A geography lesson!" he muttered as if to himself, but loud
enough to be heard.

Przebyszewski, with respectful but dignified politeness, held his
hand to his ear toward Weyrother, with the air of a man absorbed in
attention. Dohkturov, a little man, sat opposite Weyrother, with an
assiduous and modest mien, and stooping over the outspread map
conscientiously studied the dispositions and the unfamiliar
locality. He asked Weyrother several times to repeat words he had
not clearly heard and the difficult names of villages. Weyrother
complied and Dohkturov noted them down.

When the reading which lasted more than an hour was over, Langeron
again brought his snuffbox to rest and, without looking at Weyrother
or at anyone in particular, began to say how difficult it was to carry
out such a plan in which the enemy's position was assumed to be known,
whereas it was perhaps not known, since the enemy was in movement.
Langeron's objections were valid but it was obvious that their chief
aim was to show General Weyrother- who had read his dispositions
with as much self-confidence as if he were addressing school children-
that he had to do, not with fools, but with men who could teach him
something in military matters.

When the monotonous sound of Weyrother's voice ceased, Kutuzov
opened his eye as a miller wakes up when the soporific drone of the
mill wheel is interrupted. He listened to what Langeron said, as if
remarking, "So you are still at that silly business!" quickly closed
his eye again, and let his head sink still lower.

Langeron, trying as virulently as possible to sting Weyrother's
vanity as author of the military plan, argued that Bonaparte might
easily attack instead of being attacked, and so render the whole of
this plan perfectly worthless. Weyrother met all objections with a
firm and contemptuous smile, evidently prepared beforehand to meet all
objections be they what they might.

"If he could attack us, he would have done so today," said he.

"So you think he is powerless?" said Langeron.

"He has forty thousand men at most," replied Weyrother, with the
smile of a doctor to whom an old wife wishes to explain the
treatment of a case.

"In that case he is inviting his doom by awaiting our attack,"
said Langeron, with a subtly ironical smile, again glancing round
for support to Miloradovich who was near him.

But Miloradovich was at that moment evidently thinking of anything
rather than of what the generals were disputing about.

"Ma foi!" said he, "tomorrow we shall see all that on the
battlefield."

Weyrother again gave that smile which seemed to say that to him it
was strange and ridiculous to meet objections from Russian generals
and to have to prove to them what he had not merely convinced
himself of, but had also convinced the sovereign Emperors of.

"The enemy has quenched his fires and a continual noise is heard
from his camp," said he. "What does that mean? Either he is
retreating, which is the only thing we need fear, or he is changing
his position." (He smiled ironically.) "But even if he also took up
a position in the Thuerassa, he merely saves us a great deal of
trouble and all our arrangements to the minutest detail remain the
same."

"How is that?..." began Prince Andrew, who had for long been waiting
an opportunity to express his doubts.

Kutuzov here woke up, coughed heavily, and looked round at the
generals.

"Gentlemen, the dispositions for tomorrow- or rather for today,
for it is past midnight- cannot now be altered," said he. "You have
heard them, and we shall all do our duty. But before a battle, there
is nothing more important..." he paused, "than to have a good sleep."

He moved as if to rise. The generals bowed and retired. It was
past midnight. Prince Andrew went out.


The council of war, at which Prince Andrew had not been able to
express his opinion as he had hoped to, left on him a vague and uneasy
impression. Whether Dolgorukov and Weyrother, or Kutuzov, Langeron,
and the others who did not approve of the plan of attack, were
right- he did not know. "But was it really not possible for Kutuzov to
state his views plainly to the Emperor? Is it possible that on account
of court and personal considerations tens of thousands of lives, and
my life, my life," he thought, "must be risked?"

"Yes, it is very likely that I shall be killed tomorrow," he
thought. And suddenly, at this thought of death, a whole series of
most distant, most intimate, memories rose in his imagination: he
remembered his last parting from his father and his wife; he
remembered the days when he first loved her. He thought of her
pregnancy and felt sorry for her and for himself, and in a nervously
emotional and softened mood he went out of the hut in which he was
billeted with Nesvitski and began to walk up and down before it.

The night was foggy and through the fog the moonlight gleamed
mysteriously. "Yes, tomorrow, tomorrow!" he thought. "Tomorrow
everything may be over for me! All these memories will be no more,
none of them will have any meaning for me. Tomorrow perhaps, even
certainly, I have a presentiment that for the first time I shall
have to show all I can do." And his fancy pictured the battle, its
loss, the concentration of fighting at one point, and the hesitation
of all the commanders. And then that happy moment, that Toulon for
which he had so long waited, presents itself to him at last. He firmly
and clearly expresses his opinion to Kutuzov, to Weyrother, and to the
Emperors. All are struck by the justness of his views, but no one
undertakes to carry them out, so he takes a regiment, a division-
stipulates that no one is to interfere with his arrangements- leads
his division to the decisive point, and gains the victory alone.
"But death and suffering?" suggested another voice. Prince Andrew,
however, did not answer that voice and went on dreaming of his
triumphs. The dispositions for the next battle are planned by him
alone. Nominally he is only an adjutant on Kutuzov's staff, but he
does everything alone. The next battle is won by him alone. Kutuzov is
removed and he is appointed... "Well and then?" asked the other voice.
"If before that you are not ten times wounded, killed, or betrayed,
well... what then?..." "Well then," Prince Andrew answered himself, "I
don't know what will happen and don't want to know, and can't, but
if I want this- want glory, want to be known to men, want to be
loved by them, it is not my fault that I want it and want nothing
but that and live only for that. Yes, for that alone! I shall never
tell anyone, but, oh God! what am I to do if I love nothing but fame
and men's esteem? Death, wounds, the loss of family- I fear nothing.
And precious and dear as many persons are to me- father, sister, wife-
those dearest to me- yet dreadful and unnatural as it seems, I would
give them all at once for a moment of glory, of triumph over men, of
love from men I don't know and never shall know, for the love of these
men here," he thought, as he listened to voices in Kutuzov's
courtyard. The voices were those of the orderlies who were packing up;
one voice, probably a coachman's, was teasing Kutuzov's old cook
whom Prince Andrew knew, and who was called Tit. He was saying,
"Tit, I say, Tit!"

"Well?" returned the old man.

"Go, Tit, thresh a bit!" said the wag.

"Oh, go to the devil!" called out a voice, drowned by the laughter
of the orderlies and servants.

"All the same, I love and value nothing but triumph over them all, I
value this mystic power and glory that is floating here above me in
this mist!"

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That same night, Rostov was with a platoon on skirmishing duty infront of Bagration's detachment. His hussars were placed along theline in couples and he himself rode along the line trying to masterthe sleepiness that kept coming over him. An enormous space, withour army's campfires dimly glowing in the fog, could be seen behindhim; in front of him was misty darkness. Rostov could see nothing,peer as he would into that foggy distance: now something gleamed gray,now there was something black, now little lights seemed to glimmerwhere the enemy ought to be, now he fancied it was only something inhis own eyes.
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The next day the Emperor stopped at Wischau, and Villier, hisphysician, was repeatedly summoned to see him. At headquarters andamong the troops near by the news spread that the Emperor wasunwell. He ate nothing and had slept badly that night, those aroundhim reported. The cause of this indisposition was the strongimpression made on his sensitive mind by the sight of the killed andwounded.At daybreak on the seventeenth, a French officer who had come with aflag of truce, demanding an audience with the Russian Emperor, wasbrought into Wischau from our outposts. This officer was Savary. TheEmperor had only just fallen asleep and
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