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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 9
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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 9 Post by :Bill999 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1764

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War And Peace - Book Three: 1805 - Chapter 9

The day after the review, Boris, in his best uniform and with his
comrade Berg's best wishes for success, rode to Olmutz to see
Bolkonski, wishing to profit by his friendliness and obtain for
himself the best post he could- preferably that of adjutant to some
important personage, a position in the army which seemed to him most
attractive. "It is all very well for Rostov, whose father sends him
ten thousand rubles at a time, to talk about not wishing to cringe
to anybody and not be anyone's lackey, but I who have nothing but my
brains have to make a career and must not miss opportunities, but must
avail myself of them!" he reflected.

He did not find Prince Andrew in Olmutz that day, but the appearance
of the town where the headquarters and the diplomatic corps were
stationed and the two Emperors were living with their suites,
households, and courts only strengthened his desire to belong to
that higher world.

He knew no one, and despite his smart Guardsman's uniform, all these
exalted personages passing in the streets in their elegant carriages
with their plumes, ribbons, and medals, both courtiers and military
men, seemed so immeasurably above him, an insignificant officer of the
Guards, that they not only did not wish to, but simply could not, be
aware of his existence. At the quarters of the commander in chief,
Kutuzov, where he inquired for Bolkonski, all the adjutants and even
the orderlies looked at him as if they wished to impress on him that a
great many officers like him were always coming there and that
everybody was heartily sick of them. In spite of this, or rather
because of it, next day, November 15, after dinner he again went to
Olmutz and, entering the house occupied by Kutuzov, asked for
Bolkonski. Prince Andrew was in and Boris was shown into a large
hall probably formerly used for dancing, but in which five beds now
stood, and furniture of various kinds: a table, chairs, and a
clavichord. One adjutant, nearest the door, was sitting at the table
in a Persian dressing gown, writing. Another, the red, stout
Nesvitski, lay on a bed with his arms under his head, laughing with an
officer who had sat down beside him. A third was playing a Viennese
waltz on the clavichord, while a fourth, lying on the clavichord, sang
the tune. Bolkonski was not there. None of these gentlemen changed his
position on seeing Boris. The one who was writing and whom Boris
addressed turned round crossly and told him Bolkonski was on duty
and that he should go through the door on the left into the
reception room if he wished to see him. Boris thanked him and went
to the reception room, where he found some ten officers and generals.

When he entered, Prince Andrew, his eyes drooping contemptuously
(with that peculiar expression of polite weariness which plainly says,
"If it were not my duty I would not talk to you for a moment"), was
listening to an old Russian general with decorations, who stood very
erect, almost on tiptoe, with a soldier's obsequious expression on his
purple face, reporting something.

"Very well, then, be so good as to wait," said Prince Andrew to
the general, in Russian, speaking with the French intonation he
affected when he wished to speak contemptuously, and noticing Boris,
Prince Andrew, paying no more heed to the general who ran after him
imploring him to hear something more, nodded and turned to him with
a cheerful smile.

At that moment Boris clearly realized what he had before surmised,
that in the army, besides the subordination and discipline
prescribed in the military code, which he and the others knew in the
regiment, there was another, more important, subordination, which made
this tight-laced, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Captain
Prince Andrew, for his own pleasure, chose to chat with Lieutenant
Drubetskoy. More than ever was Boris resolved to serve in future not
according to the written code, but under this unwritten law. He felt
now that merely by having been recommended to Prince Andrew he had
already risen above the general who at the front had the power to
annihilate him, a lieutenant of the Guards. Prince Andrew came up to
him and took his hand.

"I am very sorry you did not find me in yesterday. I was fussing
about with Germans all day. We went with Weyrother to survey the
dispositions. When Germans start being accurate, there's no end to
it!"

Boris smiled, as if he understood what Prince Andrew was alluding to
as something generally known. But it the first time he had heard
Weyrother's name, or even the term "dispositions."

"Well, my dear fellow, so you still want to be an adjutant? I have
been thinking about you."

"Yes, I was thinking"- for some reason Boris could not help
blushing- "of asking the commander in chief. He has had a letter
from Prince Kuragin about me. I only wanted to ask because I fear
the Guards won't be in action," he added as if in apology.

"All right, all right. We'll talk it over," replied Prince Andrew.
"Only let me report this gentleman's business, and I shall be at
your disposal."

While Prince Andrew went to report about the purple-faced general,
that gentleman- evidently not sharing Boris' conception of the
advantages of the unwritten code of subordination- looked so fixedly
at the presumptuous lieutenant who had prevented his finishing what he
had to say to the adjutant that Boris felt uncomfortable. He turned
away and waited impatiently for Prince Andrew's return from the
commander in chief's room.

"You see, my dear fellow, I have been thinking about you," said
Prince Andrew when they had gone into the large room where the
clavichord was. "It's no use your going to the commander in chief.
He would say a lot of pleasant things, ask you to dinner" ("That would
not be bad as regards the unwritten code," thought Boris), "but
nothing more would come of it. There will soon be a battalion of us
aides-de-camp and adjutants! But this is what we'll do: I have a
good friend, an adjutant general and an excellent fellow, Prince
Dolgorukov; and though you may not know it, the fact is that now
Kutuzov with his staff and all of us count for nothing. Everything
is now centered round the Emperor. So we will go to Dolgorukov; I have
to go there anyhow and I have already spoken to him about you. We
shall see whether he cannot attach you to himself or find a place
for you somewhere nearer the sun."

Prince Andrew always became specially keen when he had to guide a
young man and help him to worldly success. Under cover of obtaining
help of this kind for another, which from pride he would never
accept for himself, he kept in touch with the circle which confers
success and which attracted him. He very readily took up Boris'
cause and went with him to Dolgorukov.

It was late in the evening when they entered the palace at Olmutz
occupied by the Emperors and their retinues.

That same day a council of war had been held in which all the
members of the Hofkriegsrath and both Emperors took part. At that
council, contrary to the views of the old generals Kutuzov and
Prince Schwartzenberg, it had been decided to advance immediately
and give battle to Bonaparte. The council of war was just over when
Prince Andrew accompanied by Boris arrived at the palace to find
Dolgorukov. Everyone at headquarters was still under the spell of
the day's council, at which the party of the young had triumphed.
The voices of those who counseled delay and advised waiting for
something else before advancing had been so completely silenced and
their arguments confuted by such conclusive evidence of the advantages
of attacking that what had been discussed at the council- the coming
battle and the victory that would certainly result from it- no
longer seemed to be in the future but in the past. All the
advantages were on our side. Our enormous forces, undoubtedly superior
to Napoleon's, were concentrated in one place, the troops inspired
by the Emperors' presence were eager for action. The strategic
position where the operations would take place was familiar in all its
details to the Austrian General Weyrother: a lucky accident had
ordained that the Austrian army should maneuver the previous year on
the very fields where the French had now to be fought; the adjacent
locality was known and shown in every detail on the maps, and
Bonaparte, evidently weakened, was undertaking nothing.

Dolgorukov, one of the warmest advocates of an attack, had just
returned from the council, tired and exhausted but eager and proud
of the victory that had been gained. Prince Andrew introduced his
protege, but Prince Dolgorukov politely and firmly pressing his hand
said nothing to Boris and, evidently unable to suppress the thoughts
which were uppermost in his mind at that moment, addressed Prince
Andrew in French.

"Ah, my dear fellow, what a battle we have gained! God grant that
the one that will result from it will be as victorious! However,
dear fellow," he said abruptly and eagerly, "I must confess to
having been unjust to the Austrians and especially to Weyrother.
What exactitude, what minuteness, what knowledge of the locality, what
foresight for every eventuality, every possibility even to the
smallest detail! No, my dear fellow, no conditions better than our
present ones could have been devised. This combination of Austrian
precision with Russian valor- what more could be wished for?"

"So the attack is definitely resolved on?" asked Bolkonski.

"And do you know, my dear fellow, it seems to me that Bonaparte
has decidedly lost bearings, you know that a letter was received
from him today for the Emperor." Dolgorukov smiled significantly.

"Is that so? And what did he say?" inquired Bolkonski.

"What can he say? Tra-di-ri-di-ra and so on... merely to gain
time. I tell you he is in our hands, that's certain! But what was most
amusing," he continued, with a sudden, good-natured laugh, "was that
we could not think how to address the reply! If not as 'Consul' and of
course not as 'Emperor,' it seemed to me it should be to 'General
Bonaparte.'"

"But between not recognizing him as Emperor and calling him
General Bonaparte, there is a difference," remarked Bolkonski.

"That's just it," interrupted Dolgorukov quickly, laughing. "You
know Bilibin- he's a very clever fellow. He suggested addressing him
as 'Usurper and Enemy of Mankind.'"

Dolgorukov laughed merrily.

"Only that?" said Bolkonski.

"All the same, it was Bilibin who found a suitable form for the
address. He is a wise and clever fellow."

"What was it?"

"To the Head of the French Government... Au chef du gouvernement
francais," said Dolgorukov, with grave satisfaction. "Good, wasn't
it?"

"Yes, but he will dislike it extremely," said Bolkonski.

"Oh yes, very much! My brother knows him, he's dined with him- the
present Emperor- more than once in Paris, and tells me he never met
a more cunning or subtle diplomatist- you know, a combination of
French adroitness and Italian play-acting! Do you know the tale
about him and Count Markov? Count Markov was the only man who knew how
to handle him. You know the story of the handkerchief? It is
delightful!"

And the talkative Dolgorukov, turning now to Boris, now to Prince
Andrew, told how Bonaparte wishing to test Markov, our ambassador,
purposely dropped a handkerchief in front of him and stood looking
at Markov, probably expecting Markov to pick it up for him, and how
Markov immediately dropped his own beside it and picked it up
without touching Bonaparte's.

"Delightful!" said Bolkonski. "But I have come to you, Prince, as
a petitioner on behalf of this young man. You see..." but before
Prince Andrew could finish, an aide-de-camp came in to summon
Dolgorukov to the Emperor.

"Oh, what a nuisance," said Dolgorukov, getting up hurriedly and
pressing the hands of Prince Andrew and Boris. "You know I should be
very glad to do all in my power both for you and for this dear young
man." Again he pressed the hand of the latter with an expression of
good-natured, sincere, and animated levity. "But you see... another
time!"

Boris was excited by the thought of being so close to the higher
powers as he felt himself to be at that moment. He was conscious
that here he was in contact with the springs that set in motion the
enormous movements of the mass of which in his regiment he felt
himself a tiny, obedient, and insignificant atom. They followed Prince
Dolgorukov out into the corridor and met- coming out of the door of
the Emperor's room by which Dolgorukov had entered- a short man in
civilian clothes with a clever face and sharply projecting jaw
which, without spoiling his face, gave him a peculiar vivacity and
shiftiness of expression. This short man nodded to Dolgorukov as to an
intimate friend and stared at Prince Andrew with cool intensity,
walking straight toward him and evidently expecting him to bow or to
step out of his way. Prince Andrew did neither: a look of animosity
appeared on his face and the other turned away and went down the
side of the corridor.

"Who was that?" asked Boris.

"He is one of the most remarkable, but to me most unpleasant of men-
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Adam Czartoryski.... It is
such men as he who decide the fate of nations," added Bolkonski with a
sigh he could not suppress, as they passed out of the palace.

Next day, the army began its campaign, and up to the very battle
of Austerlitz, Boris was unable to see either Prince Andrew or
Dolgorukov again and remained for a while with the Ismaylov regiment.

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