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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 15
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 15 Post by :rrm7777 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2033

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 15 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 15

At eight o'clock Kutuzov rode to Pratzen at the head of the fourth
column, Miloradovich's, the one that was to take the place of
Przebyszewski's and Langeron's columns which had already gone down
into the valley. He greeted the men of the foremost regiment and
gave them the order to march, thereby indicating that he intended to
lead that column himself. When he had reached the village of Pratzen
he halted. Prince Andrew was behind, among the immense number
forming the commander in chief's suite. He was in a state of
suppressed excitement and irritation, though controlledly calm as a
man is at the approach of a long-awaited moment. He was firmly
convinced that this was the day of his Toulon, or his bridge of
Arcola. How it would come about he did not know, but he felt sure it
would do so. The locality and the position of our troops were known to
him as far as they could be known to anyone in our army. His own
strategic plan, which obviously could not now be carried out, was
forgotten. Now, entering into Weyrother's plan, Prince Andrew
considered possible contingencies and formed new projects such as
might call for his rapidity of perception and decision.

To the left down below in the mist, the musketry fire of unseen
forces could be heard. It was there Prince Andrew thought the fight
would concentrate. "There we shall encounter difficulties, and there,"
thought he, "I shall be sent with a brigade or division, and there,
standard in hand, I shall go forward and break whatever is in front of
me."

He could not look calmly at the standards of the passing battalions.
Seeing them he kept thinking, "That may be the very standard with
which I shall lead the army."

In the morning all that was left of the night mist on the heights
was a hoar frost now turning to dew, but in the valleys it still lay
like a milk-white sea. Nothing was visible in the valley to the left
into which our troops had descended and from whence came the sounds of
firing. Above the heights was the dark clear sky, and to the right the
vast orb of the sun. In front, far off on the farther shore of that
sea of mist, some wooded hills were discernible, and it was there
the enemy probably was, for something could be descried. On the
right the Guards were entering the misty region with a sound of
hoofs and wheels and now and then a gleam of bayonets; to the left
beyond the village similar masses of cavalry came up and disappeared
in the sea of mist. In front and behind moved infantry. The
commander in chief was standing at the end of the village letting
the troops pass by him. That morning Kutuzov seemed worn and
irritable. The infantry passing before him came to a halt without
any command being given, apparently obstructed by something in front.

"Do order them to form into battalion columns and go round the
village!" he said angrily to a general who had ridden up. "Don't you
understand, your excellency, my dear sir, that you must not defile
through narrow village streets when we are marching against the
enemy?"

"I intended to re-form them beyond the village, your excellency,"
answered the general.

Kutuzov laughed bitterly.

"You'll make a fine thing of it, deploying in sight of the enemy!
Very fine!"

"The enemy is still far away, your excellency. According to the
dispositions..."

"The dispositions!" exclaimed Kutuzov bitterly. "Who told you
that?... Kindly do as you are ordered."

"Yes, sir."

"My dear fellow," Nesvitski whispered to Prince Andrew, "the old man
is as surly as a dog."

An Austrian officer in a white uniform with green plumes in his
hat galloped up to Kutuzov and asked in the Emperor's name had the
fourth column advanced into action.

Kutuzov turned round without answering and his eye happened to
fall upon Prince Andrew, who was beside him. Seeing him, Kutuzov's
malevolent and caustic expression softened, as if admitting that
what was being done was not his adjutant's fault, and still not
answering the Austrian adjutant, he addressed Bolkonski.

"Go, my dear fellow, and see whether the third division has passed
the village. Tell it to stop and await my orders."

Hardly had Prince Andrew started than he stopped him.

"And ask whether sharpshooters have been posted," he added. "What
are they doing? What are they doing?" he murmured to himself, still
not replying to the Austrian.

Prince Andrew galloped off to execute the order.

Overtaking the battalions that continued to advance, he stopped
the third division and convinced himself that there really were no
sharpshooters in front of our columns. The colonel at the head of
the regiment was much surprised at the commander in chief's order to
throw out skirmishers. He had felt perfectly sure that there were
other troops in front of him and that the enemy must be at least six
miles away. There was really nothing to be seen in front except a
barren descent hidden by dense mist. Having given orders in the
commander in chief's name to rectify this omission, Prince Andrew
galloped back. Kutuzov still in the same place, his stout body resting
heavily in the saddle with the lassitude of age, sat yawning wearily
with closed eyes. The troops were no longer moving, but stood with the
butts of their muskets on the ground.

"All right, all right!" he said to Prince Andrew, and turned to a
general who, watch in hand, was saying it was time they started as all
the left-flank columns had already descended.

"Plenty of time, your excellency," muttered Kutuzov in the midst
of a yawn. "Plenty of time," he repeated.

Just then at a distance behind Kutuzov was heard the sound of
regiments saluting, and this sound rapidly came nearer along the whole
extended line of the advancing Russian columns. Evidently the person
they were greeting was riding quickly. When the soldiers of the
regiment in front of which Kutuzov was standing began to shout, he
rode a little to one side and looked round with a frown. Along the
road from Pratzen galloped what looked like a squadron of horsemen
in various uniforms. Two of them rode side by side in front, at full
gallop. One in a black uniform with white plumes in his hat rode a
bobtailed chestnut horse, the other who was in a white uniform rode
a black one. These were the two Emperors followed by their suites.
Kutuzov, affecting the manners of an old soldier at the front, gave
the command "Attention!" and rode up to the Emperors with a salute.
His whole appearance and manner were suddenly transformed. He put on
the air of a subordinate who obeys without reasoning. With an
affectation of respect which evidently struck Alexander
unpleasantly, he rode up and saluted.

This unpleasant impression merely flitted over the young and happy
face of the Emperor like a cloud of haze across a clear sky and
vanished. After his illness he looked rather thinner that day than
on the field of Olmutz where Bolkonski had seen him for the first time
abroad, but there was still the same bewitching combination of majesty
and mildness in his fine gray eyes, and on his delicate lips the
same capacity for varying expression and the same prevalent appearance
of goodhearted innocent youth.

At the Olmutz review he had seemed more majestic; here he seemed
brighter and more energetic. He was slightly flushed after galloping
two miles, and reining in his horse he sighed restfully and looked
round at the faces of his suite, young and animated as his own.
Czartoryski, Novosiltsev, Prince Volkonsky, Strogonov, and the others,
all richly dressed gay young men on splendid, well-groomed, fresh,
only slightly heated horses, exchanging remarks and smiling, had
stopped behind the Emperor. The Emperor Francis, a rosy, long faced
young man, sat very erect on his handsome black horse, looking about
him in a leisurely and preoccupied manner. He beckoned to one of his
white adjutants and asked some question- "Most likely he is asking
at what o'clock they started," thought Prince Andrew, watching his old
acquaintance with a smile he could not repress as he recalled his
reception at Brunn. In the Emperors' suite were the picked young
orderly officers of the Guard and line regiments, Russian and
Austrian. Among them were grooms leading the Tsar's beautiful relay
horses covered with embroidered cloths.

As when a window is opened a whiff of fresh air from the fields
enters a stuffy room, so a whiff of youthfulness, energy, and
confidence of success reached Kutuzov's cheerless staff with the
galloping advent of all these brilliant young men.

"Why aren't you beginning, Michael Ilarionovich?" said the Emperor
Alexander hurriedly to Kutuzov, glancing courteously at the same
time at the Emperor Francis.

"I am waiting, Your Majesty," answered Kutuzov, bending forward
respectfully.

The Emperor, frowning slightly, bent his ear forward as if he had
not quite heard.

"Waiting, Your Majesty," repeated Kutuzov. (Prince Andrew noted that
Kutuzov's upper lip twitched unnaturally as he said the word
"waiting.") "Not all the columns have formed up yet, Your Majesty."

The Tsar heard but obviously did not like the reply; he shrugged his
rather round shoulders and glanced at Novosiltsev who was near him, as
if complaining of Kutuzov.

"You know, Michael Ilarionovich, we are not are not on the
Empress' Field where a parade does not begin till all the troops are
assembled," said the Tsar with another glance at the Emperor
Francis, as if inviting him if not to join in at least to listen to
what he was saying. But the Emperor Francis continued to look about
him and did not listen.

"That is just why I do not begin, sire," said Kutuzov in a
resounding voice, apparently to preclude the possibility of not
being heard, and again something in his face twitched- "That is just
why I do not begin, sire, because we are not on parade and not on
the Empress' Field." said clearly and distinctly.

In the Emperor's suite all exchanged rapid looks that expressed
dissatisfaction and reproach. "Old though he may be, he should not, he
certainly should not, speak like that," their glances seemed to say.

The Tsar looked intently and observantly into Kutuzov's eye
waiting to hear whether he would say anything more. But Kutuzov,
with respectfully bowed head, seemed also to be waiting. The silence
lasted for about a minute.

"However, if you command it, Your Majesty," said Kutuzov, lifting
his head and again assuming his former tone of a dull, unreasoning,
but submissive general.

He touched his horse and having called Miloradovich, the commander
of the column, gave him the order to advance.

The troops again began to move, and two battalions of the Novgorod
and one of the Apsheron regiment went forward past the Emperor.

As this Apsheron battalion marched by, the red-faced Miloradovich,
without his greatcoat, with his Orders on his breast and an enormous
tuft of plumes in his cocked hat worn on one side with its corners
front and back, galloped strenuously forward, and with a dashing
salute reined in his horse before the Emperor.

"God be with you, general!" said the Emperor.

"Ma foi, sire, nous ferons ce qui sera dans notre possibilite,
sire,"* he answered gaily, raising nevertheless ironic smiles among
the gentlemen of the Tsar's suite by his poor French.


*"Indeed, Sire, we shall do everything it is possible to do, Sire."


Miloradovich wheeled his horse sharply and stationed himself a
little behind the Emperor. The Apsheron men, excited by the Tsar's
presence, passed in step before the Emperors and their suites at a
bold, brisk pace.

"Lads!" shouted Miloradovich in a loud, self-confident, and cheery
voice, obviously so elated by the sound of firing, by the prospect
of battle, and by the sight of the gallant Apsherons, his comrades
in Suvorov's time, now passing so gallantly before the Emperors,
that he forgot the sovereigns' presence. "Lads, it's not the first
village you've had to take," cried he.

"Glad to do our best!" shouted the soldiers.

The Emperor's horse started at the sudden cry. This horse that had
carried the sovereign at reviews in Russia bore him also here on the
field of Austerlitz, enduring the heedless blows of his left foot
and pricking its ears at the sound of shots just as it had done on the
Empress' Field, not understanding the significance of the firing,
nor of the nearness of the Emperor Francis' black cob, nor of all that
was being said, thought, and felt that day by its rider.

The Emperor turned with a smile to one of his followers and made a
remark to him, pointing to the gallant Apsherons.

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Kutuzov accompanied by his adjutants rode at a walking pace behindthe carabineers.When he had gone less than half a mile in the rear of the columnhe stopped at a solitary, deserted house that had probably once beenan inn two roads parted. Both of them led downhill and troopswere marching along both.The fog had begun to clear and enemy troops were already dimlyvisible about a mile and a half off on the opposite heights. Downbelow, on the left, the firing became more distinct. Kutuzov hadstopped and was speaking to an Austrian general. Prince Andrew, whowas a little behind looking at them,
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At five in the morning it was still quite dark. The troops of thecenter, the reserves, and Bagration's right flank had not yet moved,but on the left flank the columns of infantry, cavalry, and artillery,which were to be the first to descend the heights to attack the Frenchright flank and drive it into the Bohemian mountains according toplan, were already up and astir. The smoke of the campfires, intowhich they were throwing everything superfluous, made the eyessmart. It was cold and dark. The officers were hurriedly drinkingtea and breakfasting, the soldiers, munching biscuit and beating atattoo with their feet to warm
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