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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 18
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 18 Post by :wldcreek Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1120

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 18 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 18

Rostov had been ordered to look for Kutuzov and the Emperor near the
village of Pratzen. But neither they nor a single commanding officer
were there, only disorganized crowds of troops of various kinds. He
urged on his already weary horse to get quickly past these crowds, but
the farther he went the more disorganized they were. The highroad on
which he had come out was thronged with caleches, carriages of all
sorts, and Russian and Austrian soldiers of all arms, some wounded and
some not. This whole mass droned and jostled in confusion under the
dismal influence of cannon balls flying from the French batteries
stationed on the Pratzen Heights.

"Where is the Emperor? Where is Kutuzov?" Rostov kept asking
everyone he could stop, but got no answer from anyone.

At last seizing a soldier by his collar he forced him to answer.

"Eh, brother! They've all bolted long ago!" said the soldier,
laughing for some reason and shaking himself free.

Having left that soldier who was evidently drunk, Rostov stopped the
horse of a batman or groom of some important personage and began to
question him. The man announced that the Tsar had been driven in a
carriage at full speed about an hour before along that very road and
that he was dangerously wounded.

"It can't be!" said Rostov. "It must have been someone else."

"I saw him myself." replied the man with a self-confident smile of
derision. "I ought to know the Emperor by now, after the times I've
seen him in Petersburg. I saw him just as I see you.... There he sat
in the carriage as pale as anything. How they made the four black
horses fly! Gracious me, they did rattle past! It's time I knew the
Imperial horses and Ilya Ivanych. I don't think Ilya drives anyone
except the Tsar!"

Rostov let go of the horse and was about to ride on, when a
wounded officer passing by addressed him:

"Who is it you want?" he asked. "The commander in chief? He was
killed by a cannon ball- struck in the breast before our regiment."

"Not killed- wounded!" another officer corrected him.

"Who? Kutuzov?" asked Rostov.

"Not Kutuzov, but what's his name- well, never mind... there are not
many left alive. Go that way, to that village, all the commanders
are there," said the officer, pointing to the village of Hosjeradek,
and he walked on.

Rostov rode on at a footpace not knowing why or to whom he was now
going. The Emperor was wounded, the battle lost. It was impossible
to doubt it now. Rostov rode in the direction pointed out to him, in
which he saw turrets and a church. What need to hurry? What was he now
to say to the Tsar or to Kutuzov, even if they were alive and
unwounded?

"Take this road, your honor, that way you will be killed at once!" a
soldier shouted to him. "They'd kill you there!"

"Oh, what are you talking about?" said another. "Where is he to
go? That way is nearer."

Rostov considered, and then went in the direction where they said he
would be killed.

"It's all the same now. If the Emperor is wounded, am I to try to
save myself?" he thought. He rode on to the region where the
greatest number of men had perished in fleeing from Pratzen. The
French had not yet occupied that region, and the Russians- the
uninjured and slightly wounded- had left it long ago. All about the
field, like heaps of manure on well-kept plowland, lay from ten to
fifteen dead and wounded to each couple of acres. The wounded crept
together in twos and threes and one could hear their distressing
screams and groans, sometimes feigned- or so it seemed to Rostov. He
put his horse to a trot to avoid seeing all these suffering men, and
he felt afraid- afraid not for his life, but for the courage he needed
and which he knew would not stand the sight of these unfortunates.

The French, who had ceased firing at this field strewn with dead and
wounded where there was no one left to fire at, on seeing an
adjutant riding over it trained a gun on him and fired several
shots. The sensation of those terrible whistling sounds and of the
corpses around him merged in Rostov's mind into a single feeling of
terror and pity for himself. He remembered his mother's last letter.
"What would she feel," thought he, "if she saw me here now on this
field with the cannon aimed at me?"

In the village of Hosjeradek there were Russian troops retiring from
the field of battle, who though still in some confusion were less
disordered. The French cannon did not reach there and the musketry
fire sounded far away. Here everyone clearly saw and said that the
battle was lost. No one whom Rostov asked could tell him where the
Emperor or Kutuzov was. Some said the report that the Emperor was
wounded was correct, others that it was not, and explained the false
rumor that had spread by the fact that the Emperor's carriage had
really galloped from the field of battle with the pale and terrified
Ober-Hofmarschal Count Tolstoy, who had ridden out to the
battlefield with others in the Emperor's suite. One officer told
Rostov that he had seen someone from headquarters behind the village
to the left, and thither Rostov rode, not hoping to find anyone but
merely to ease his conscience. When he had ridden about two miles
and had passed the last of the Russian troops, he saw, near a
kitchen garden with a ditch round it, two men on horseback facing
the ditch. One with a white plume in his hat seemed familiar to
Rostov; the other on a beautiful chestnut horse (which Rostov
fancied he had seen before) rode up to the ditch, struck his horse
with his spurs, and giving it the rein leaped lightly over. Only a
little earth crumbled from the bank under the horse's hind hoofs.
Turning the horse sharply, he again jumped the ditch, and
deferentially addressed the horseman with the white plumes,
evidently suggesting that he should do the same. The rider, whose
figure seemed familiar to Rostov and involuntarily riveted his
attention, made a gesture of refusal with his head and hand and by
that gesture Rostov instantly recognized his lamented and adored
monarch.

"But it can't be he, alone in the midst of this empty field!"
thought Rostov. At that moment Alexander turned his head and Rostov
saw the beloved features that were so deeply engraved on his memory.
The Emperor was pale, his cheeks sunken and his eyes hollow, but the
charm, the mildness of his features, was all the greater. Rostov was
happy in the assurance that the rumors about the Emperor being wounded
were false. He was happy to be seeing him. He knew that he might and
even ought to go straight to him and give the message Dolgorukov had
ordered him to deliver.

But as a youth in love trembles, is unnerved, and dares not utter
the thoughts he has dreamed of for nights, but looks around for help
or a chance of delay and flight when the longed-for moment comes and
he is alone with her, so Rostov, now that he had attained what he
had longed for more than anything else in the world, did not know
how to approach the Emperor, and a thousand reasons occurred to him
why it would be inconvenient, unseemly, and impossible to do so.

"What! It is as if I were glad of a chance to take advantage of
his being alone and despondent! A strange face may seem unpleasant
or painful to him at this moment of sorrow; besides, what can I say to
him now, when my heart fails me and my mouth feels dry at the mere
sight of him?" Not one of the innumerable speeches addressed to the
Emperor that he had composed in his imagination could he now recall.
Those speeches were intended for quite other conditions, they were for
the most part to be spoken at a moment of victory and triumph,
generally when he was dying of wounds and the sovereign had thanked
him for heroic deeds, and while dying he expressed the love his
actions had proved.

"Besides how can I ask the Emperor for his instructions for the
right flank now that it is nearly four o'clock and the battle is lost?
No, certainly I must not approach him, I must not intrude on his
reflections. Better die a thousand times than risk receiving an unkind
look or bad opinion from him," Rostov decided; and sorrowfully and
with a heart full despair he rode away, continually looking back at
the Tsar, who still remained in the same attitude of indecision.

While Rostov was thus arguing with himself and riding sadly away,
Captain von Toll chanced to ride to the same spot, and seeing the
Emperor at once rode up to him, offered his services, and assisted him
to cross the ditch on foot. The Emperor, wishing to rest and feeling
unwell, sat down under an apple tree and von Toll remained beside him.
Rostov from a distance saw with envy and remorse how von Toll spoke
long and warmly to the Emperor and how the Emperor, evidently weeping,
covered his eyes with his hand and pressed von Toll's hand.

"And I might have been in his place!" thought Rostov, and hardly
restraining his tears of pity for the Emperor, he rode on in utter
despair, not knowing where to or why he was now riding.

His despair was all the greater from feeling that his own weakness
was the cause his grief.

He might... not only might but should, have gone up to the
sovereign. It was a unique chance to show his devotion to the
Emperor and he had not made use of it.... "What have I done?"
thought he. And he turned round and galloped back to the place where
he had seen the Emperor, but there was no one beyond the ditch now.
Only some carts and carriages were passing by. From one of the drivers
he learned that Kutuzov's staff were not far off, in the village the
vehicles were going to. Rostov followed them. In front of him walked
Kutuzov's groom leading horses in horsecloths. Then came a cart, and
behind that walked an old, bandy-legged domestic serf in a peaked
cap and sheepskin coat.

"Tit! I say, Tit!" said the groom.

"What?" answered the old man absent-mindedly.

"Go, Tit! Thresh a bit!"

"Oh, you fool!" said the old man, spitting angrily. Some time passed
in silence, and then the same joke was repeated.


Before five in the evening the battle had been lost at all points.
More than a hundred cannon were already in the hands of the French.

Przebyszewski and his corps had laid down their arms. Other
columns after losing half their men were retreating in disorderly
confused masses.

The remains of Langeron's and Dokhturov's mingled forces were
crowding around the dams and banks of the ponds near the village of
Augesd.

After five o'clock it was only at the Augesd Dam that a hot
cannonade (delivered by the French alone) was still to be heard from
numerous batteries ranged on the slopes of the Pratzen Heights,
directed at our retreating forces.

In the rearguard, Dokhturov and others rallying some battalions kept
up a musketry fire at the French cavalry that was pursuing our troops.
It was growing dusk. On the narrow Augesd Dam where for so many
years the old miller had been accustomed to sit in his tasseled cap
peacefully angling, while his grandson, with shirt sleeves rolled
up, handled the floundering silvery fish in the watering can, on
that dam over which for so many years Moravians in shaggy caps and
blue jackets had peacefully driven their two-horse carts loaded with
wheat and had returned dusty with flour whitening their carts- on that
narrow dam amid the wagons and the cannon, under the horses' hoofs and
between the wagon wheels, men disfigured by fear of death now
crowded together, crushing one another, dying, stepping over the dying
and killing one another, only to move on a few steps and be killed
themselves in the same way.

Every ten seconds a cannon ball flew compressing the air around,
or a shell burst in the midst of that dense throng, killing some and
splashing with blood those near them.

Dolokhov- now an officer- wounded in the arm, and on foot, with
the regimental commander on horseback and some ten men of his company,
represented all that was left of that whole regiment. Impelled by
the crowd, they had got wedged in at the approach to the dam and,
jammed in on all sides, had stopped because a horse in front had
fallen under a cannon and the crowd were dragging it out. A cannon
ball killed someone behind them, another fell in front and splashed
Dolokhov with blood. The crowd, pushing forward desperately,
squeezed together, moved a few steps, and again stopped.

"Move on a hundred yards and we are certainly saved, remain here
another two minutes and it is certain death," thought each one.

Dolokhov who was in the midst of the crowd forced his way to the
edge of the dam, throwing two soldiers off their feet, and ran onto
the slippery ice that covered the millpool.

"Turn this way!" he shouted, jumping over the ice which creaked
under him; "turn this way!" he shouted to those with the gun. "It
bears!..."

The ice bore him but it swayed and creaked, and it was plain that it
would give way not only under a cannon or a crowd, but very soon
even under his weight alone. The men looked at him and pressed to
the bank, hesitating to step onto the ice. The general on horseback at
the entrance to the dam raised his hand and opened his mouth to
address Dolokhov. Suddenly a cannon ball hissed so low above the crowd
that everyone ducked. It flopped into something moist, and the general
fell from his horse in a pool of blood. Nobody gave him a look or
thought of raising him.

"Get onto the ice, over the ice! Go on! Turn! Don't you hear? Go
on!" innumerable voices suddenly shouted after the ball had struck the
general, the men themselves not knowing what, or why, they were
shouting.

One of the hindmost guns that was going onto the dam turned off onto
the ice. Crowds of soldiers from the dam began running onto the frozen
pond. The ice gave way under one of the foremost soldiers, and one leg
slipped into the water. He tried to right himself but fell in up to
his waist. The nearest soldiers shrank back, the gun driver stopped
his horse, but from behind still came the shouts: "Onto the ice, why
do you stop? Go on! Go on!" And cries of horror were heard in the
crowd. The soldiers near the gun waved their arms and beat the
horses to make them turn and move on. The horses moved off the bank.
The ice, that had held under those on foot, collapsed in a great mass,
and some forty men who were on it dashed, some forward and some
back, drowning one another.

Still the cannon balls continued regularly to whistle and flop
onto the ice and into the water and oftenest of all among the crowd
that covered the dam, the pond, and the bank.

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On the Pratzen Heights he had fallen with the flagstaff inhis hand, lay Prince Andrew Bolkonski bleeding profusely andunconsciously uttering a gentle, piteous, and childlike moan.Toward evening he ceased moaning and became quite still. He didnot know how long his unconsciousness lasted. Suddenly he again feltthat he was alive and suffering from a burning, lacerating pain in hishead."Where is it, that lofty sky that I did not know till now, but sawtoday?" was his first thought. "And I did not know this sufferingeither," he thought. "Yes, I did not know anything, anything at alltill now. But where am I?"He listened
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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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