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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 16
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 16 Post by :paulwoodley Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1833

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 16 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 16

Kutuzov accompanied by his adjutants rode at a walking pace behind
the carabineers.

When he had gone less than half a mile in the rear of the column
he stopped at a solitary, deserted house that had probably once been
an inn, where two roads parted. Both of them led downhill and troops
were marching along both.

The fog had begun to clear and enemy troops were already dimly
visible about a mile and a half off on the opposite heights. Down
below, on the left, the firing became more distinct. Kutuzov had
stopped and was speaking to an Austrian general. Prince Andrew, who
was a little behind looking at them, turned to an adjutant to ask
him for a field glass.

"Look, look!" said this adjutant, looking not at the troops in the
distance, but down the hill before him. "It's the French!"

The two generals and the adjutant took hold of the field glass,
trying to snatch it from one another. The expression on all their
faces suddenly changed to one of horror. The French were supposed to
be a mile and a half away, but had suddenly and unexpectedly
appeared just in front of us.

"It's the enemy?... No!... Yes, see it is!... for certain.... But
how is that?" said different voices.

With the naked eye Prince Andrew saw below them to the right, not
more than five hundred paces from where Kutuzov was standing, a
dense French column coming up to meet the Apsherons.

"Here it is! The decisive moment has arrived. My turn has come,"
thought Prince Andrew, and striking his horse he rode up to Kutuzov.

"The Apsherons must be stopped, your excellency," cried he. But at
that very instant a cloud of smoke spread all round, firing was
heard quite close at hand, and a voice of naive terror barely two
steps from Prince Andrew shouted, "Brothers! All's lost!" And at
this as if at a command, everyone began to run.

Confused and ever-increasing crowds were running back to where
five minutes before the troops had passed the Emperors. Not only would
it have been difficult to stop that crowd, it was even impossible
not to be carried back with it oneself. Bolkonski only tried not to
lose touch with it, and looked around bewildered and unable to grasp
what was happening in front of him. Nesvitski with an angry face,
red and unlike himself, was shouting to Kutuzov that if he did not
ride away at once he would certainly be taken prisoner. Kutuzov
remained in the same place and without answering drew out a
handkerchief. Blood was flowing from his cheek. Prince Andrew forced
his way to him.

"You are wounded?" he asked, hardly able to master the trembling
of his lower jaw.

"The wound is not here, it is there!" said Kutuzov, pressing the
handkerchief to his wounded cheek and pointing to the fleeing
soldiers. "Stop them!" he shouted, and at the same moment, probably
realizing that it was impossible to stop them, spurred his horse and
rode to the right.

A fresh wave of the flying mob caught him and bore him back with it.

The troops were running in such a dense mass that once surrounded by
them it was difficult to get out again. One was shouting, "Get on! Why
are you hindering us?" Another in the same place turned round and
fired in the air; a third was striking the horse Kutuzov himself rode.
Having by a great effort got away to the left from that flood of
men, Kutuzov, with his suite diminished by more than half, rode toward
a sound of artillery fire near by. Having forced his way out of the
crowd of fugitives, Prince Andrew, trying to keep near Kutuzov, saw on
the slope of the hill amid the smoke a Russian battery that was
still firing and Frenchmen running toward it. Higher up stood some
Russian infantry, neither moving forward to protect the battery nor
backward with the fleeing crowd. A mounted general separated himself
from the infantry and approached Kutuzov. Of Kutuzov's suite only four
remained. They were all pale and exchanged looks in silence.

"Stop those wretches!" gasped Kutuzov to the regimental commander,
pointing to the flying soldiers; but at that instant, as if to
punish him for those words, bullets flew hissing across the regiment
and across Kutuzov's suite like a flock of little birds.

The French had attacked the battery and, seeing Kutuzov, were firing
at him. After this volley the regimental commander clutched at his
leg; several soldiers fell, and a second lieutenant who was holding
the flag let it fall from his hands. It swayed and fell, but caught on
the muskets of the nearest soldiers. The soldiers started firing
without orders.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" groaned Kutuzov despairingly and looked around....
"Bolkonski!" he whispered, his voice trembling from a consciousness of
the feebleness of age, "Bolkonski!" he whispered, pointing to the
disordered battalion and at the enemy, "what's that?"

But before he had finished speaking, Prince Andrew, feeling tears of
shame and anger choking him, had already leapt from his horse and
run to the standard.

"Forward, lads!" he shouted in a voice piercing as a child's.

"Here it is!" thought he, seizing the staff of the standard and
hearing with pleasure the whistle of bullets evidently aimed at him.
Several soldiers fell.

"Hurrah!" shouted Prince Andrew, and, scarcely able to hold up the
heavy standard, he ran forward with full confidence that the whole
battalion would follow him.

And really he only ran a few steps alone. One soldier moved and then
another and soon the whole battalion ran forward shouting "Hurrah!"
and overtook him. A sergeant of the battalion ran up and took the flag
that was swaying from its weight in Prince Andrew's hands, but he
was immediately killed. Prince Andrew again seized the standard and,
dragging it by the staff, ran on with the battalion. In front he saw
our artillerymen, some of whom were fighting, while others, having
abandoned their guns, were running toward him. He also saw French
infantry soldiers who were seizing the artillery horses and turning
the guns round. Prince Andrew and the battalion were already within
twenty paces of the cannon. He heard the whistle of bullets above
him unceasingly and to right and left of him soldiers continually
groaned and dropped. But he did not look at them: he looked only at
what was going on in front of him- at the battery. He now saw
clearly the figure of a red-haired gunner with his shako knocked awry,
pulling one end of a mop while a French soldier tugged at the other.
He could distinctly see the distraught yet angry expression on the
faces of these two men, who evidently did not realize what they were
doing.

"What are they about?" thought Prince Andrew as he gazed at them.
"Why doesn't the red-haired gunner run away as he is unarmed? Why
doesn't the Frenchman stab him? He will not get away before the
Frenchman remembers his bayonet and stabs him...."

And really another French soldier, trailing his musket, ran up to
the struggling men, and the fate of the red-haired gunner, who had
triumphantly secured the mop and still did not realize what awaited
him, was about to be decided. But Prince Andrew did not see how it
ended. It seemed to him as though one of the soldiers near him hit him
on the head with the full swing of a bludgeon. It hurt a little, but
the worst of it was that the pain distracted him and prevented his
seeing what he had been looking at.

"What's this? Am I falling? My legs are giving way," thought he, and
fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle
of the Frenchmen with the gunners ended, whether the red-haired gunner
had been killed or not and whether the cannon had been captured or
saved. But he saw nothing. Above him there was now nothing but the
sky- the lofty sky, not clear yet still immeasurably lofty, with
gray clouds gliding slowly across it. "How quiet, peaceful, and
solemn; not at all as I ran," thought Prince Andrew- "not as we ran,
shouting and fighting, not at all as the gunner and the Frenchman with
frightened and angry faces struggled for the mop: how differently do
those clouds glide across that lofty infinite sky! How was it I did
not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it
at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood, except that infinite
sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not
exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. Thank God!..."

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On our right flank commanded by Bagration, at nine o'clock thebattle had not yet begun. Not wishing to agree to Dolgorukov'sdemand to commence the action, and wishing to avert responsibilityfrom himself, Prince Bagration proposed to Dolgorukov to send toinquire of the commander in chief. Bagration knew that as the distancebetween the two flanks was more than six miles, even if themessenger were not killed (which he very likely would be), and foundthe commander in chief (which would be very difficult), he would notbe able to get back before evening.Bagration cast his large, expressionless, sleepy eyes round hissuite, and the boyish face
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At eight o'clock Kutuzov rode to Pratzen at the head of the fourthcolumn, Miloradovich's, the one that was to take the place ofPrzebyszewski's and Langeron's columns which had already gone downinto the valley. He greeted the men of the foremost regiment andgave them the order to march, thereby indicating that he intended tolead that column himself. When he had reached the village of Pratzenhe halted. Prince Andrew was behind, among the immense numberforming the commander in chief's suite. He was in a state ofsuppressed excitement and irritation, though controlledly calm as aman is at the approach of a long-awaited moment. He
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