The next day the Emperor stopped at Wischau, and Villier, his physician, was repeatedly summoned to see him. At headquarters and among the troops near by the news spread that the Emperor was unwell. He ate nothing and had slept badly that night, those around him reported. The cause of this indisposition was the strong impression made on his sensitive mind by the sight of the killed and wounded.
At daybreak on the seventeenth, a French officer who had come with a flag of truce, demanding an audience with the Russian Emperor, was brought into Wischau from our outposts. This officer was Savary. The Emperor had only just fallen asleep and so Savary had to wait. At midday he was admitted to the Emperor, and an hour later he rode off with Prince Dolgorukov to the advanced post of the French army.
It was rumored that Savary had been sent to propose to Alexander a meeting with Napoleon. To the joy and pride of the whole army, a personal interview was refused, and instead of the Sovereign, Prince Dolgorukov, the victor at Wischau, was sent with Savary to negotiate with Napoleon if, contrary to expectations, these negotiations were actuated by a real desire for peace.
Toward evening Dolgorukov came back, went straight to the Tsar, and remained alone with him for a long time.
On the eighteenth and nineteenth of November, the army advanced two days' march and the enemy's outposts after a brief interchange of shots retreated. In the highest army circles from midday on the nineteenth, a great, excitedly bustling activity began which lasted till the morning of the twentieth, when the memorable battle of Austerlitz was fought.
Till midday on the nineteenth, the activity--the eager talk, running to and fro, and dispatching of adjutants--was confined to the Emperor's headquarters. But on the afternoon of that day, this activity reached Kutuzov's headquarters and the staffs of the commanders of columns. By evening, the adjutants had spread it to all ends and parts of the army, and in the night from the nineteenth to the twentieth, the whole eighty thousand allied troops rose from their bivouacs to the hum of voices, and the army swayed and started in one enormous mass six miles long.
The concentrated activity which had begun at the Emperor's headquarters in the morning and had started the whole movement that followed was like the first movement of the main wheel of a large tower clock. One wheel slowly moved, another was set in motion, and a third, and wheels began to revolve faster and faster, levers and cogwheels to work, chimes to play, figures to pop out, and the hands to advance with regular motion as a result of all that activity.
Just as in the mechanism of a clock, so in the mechanism of the military machine, an impulse once given leads to the final result; and just as indifferently quiescent till the moment when motion is transmitted to them are the parts of the mechanism which the impulse has not yet reached. Wheels creak on their axles as the cogs engage one another and the revolving pulleys whirr with the rapidity of their movement, but a neighboring wheel is as quiet and motionless as though it were prepared to remain so for a hundred years; but the moment comes when the lever catches it and obeying the impulse that wheel begins to creak and joins in the common motion the result and aim of which are beyond its ken.
Just as in a clock, the result of the complicated motion of innumerable wheels and pulleys is merely a slow and regular movement of the hands which show the time, so the result of all the complicated human activities of 160,000 Russians and French--all their passions, desires, remorse, humiliations, sufferings, outbursts of pride, fear, and enthusiasm--was only the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so-called battle of the three Emperors--that is to say, a slow movement of the hand on the dial of human history.
Prince Andrew was on duty that day and in constant attendance on the commander in chief.
At six in the evening, Kutuzov went to the Emperor's headquarters and after staying but a short time with the Tsar went to see the grand marshal of the court, Count Tolstoy.
Bolkonski took the opportunity to go in to get some details of the coming action from Dolgorukov. He felt that Kutuzov was upset and dissatisfied about something and that at headquarters they were dissatisfied with him, and also that at the Emperor's headquarters everyone adopted toward him the tone of men who know something others do not know: he therefore wished to speak to Dolgorukov.
"Well, how d'you do, my dear fellow?" said Dolgorukov, who was sitting at tea with Bilibin. "The fete is for tomorrow. How is your old fellow? Out of sorts?"
"I won't say he is out of sorts, but I fancy he would like to be heard."
"But they heard him at the council of war and will hear him when he talks sense, but to temporize and wait for something now when Bonaparte fears nothing so much as a general battle is impossible."
"Yes, you have seen him?" said Prince Andrew. "Well, what is Bonaparte like? How did he impress you?"
"Yes, I saw him, and am convinced that he fears nothing so much as a general engagement," repeated Dolgorukov, evidently prizing this general conclusion which he had arrived at from his interview with Napoleon. "If he weren't afraid of a battle why did he ask for that interview? Why negotiate, and above all why retreat, when to retreat is so contrary to his method of conducting war? Believe me, he is afraid, afraid of a general battle. His hour has come! Mark my words!"
"But tell me, what is he like, eh?" said Prince Andrew again.
"He is a man in a gray overcoat, very anxious that I should call him 'Your Majesty,' but who, to his chagrin, got no title from me! That's the sort of man he is, and nothing more," replied Dolgorukov, looking round at Bilibin with a smile.
"Despite my great respect for old Kutuzov," he continued, "we should be a nice set of fellows if we were to wait about and so give him a chance to escape, or to trick us, now that we certainly have him in our hands! No, we mustn't forget Suvorov and his rule--not to put yourself in a position to be attacked, but yourself to attack. Believe me in war the energy of young men often shows the way better than all the experience of old Cunctators."
"But in what position are we going to attack him? I have been at the outposts today and it is impossible to say where his chief forces are situated," said Prince Andrew.
He wished to explain to Dolgorukov a plan of attack he had himself formed.
"Oh, that is all the same," Dolgorukov said quickly, and getting up he spread a map on the table. "All eventualities have been foreseen. If he is standing before Brunn..."
And Prince Dolgorukov rapidly but indistinctly explained Weyrother's plan of a flanking movement.
Prince Andrew began to reply and to state his own plan, which might have been as good as Weyrother's, but for the disadvantage that Weyrother's had already been approved. As soon as Prince Andrew began to demonstrate the defects of the latter and the merits of his own plan, Prince Dolgorukov ceased to listen to him and gazed absent-mindedly not at the map, but at Prince Andrew's face.
"There will be a council of war at Kutuzov's tonight, though; you can say all this there," remarked Dolgorukov.
"I will do so," said Prince Andrew, moving away from the map.
"Whatever are you bothering about, gentlemen?" said Bilibin, who, till then, had listened with an amused smile to their conversation and now was evidently ready with a joke. "Whether tomorrow brings victory or defeat, the glory of our Russian arms is secure. Except your Kutuzov, there is not a single Russian in command of a column! The commanders are: Herr General Wimpfen, le Comte de Langeron, le Prince de Lichtenstein, le Prince, de Hohenlohe, and finally Prishprish, and so on like all those Polish names."
"Be quiet, backbiter!" said Dolgorukov. "It is not true; there are now two Russians, Miloradovich, and Dokhturov, and there would be a third, Count Arakcheev, if his nerves were not too weak."
"However, I think General Kutuzov has come out," said Prince Andrew. "I wish you good luck and success, gentlemen!" he added and went out after shaking hands with Dolgorukov and Bilibin.
On the way home, Prince Andrew could not refrain from asking Kutuzov, who was sitting silently beside him, what he thought of tomorrow's battle.
Kutuzov looked sternly at his adjutant and, after a pause, replied: "I think the battle will be lost, and so I told Count Tolstoy and asked him to tell the Emperor. What do you think he replied? 'But, my dear general, I am engaged with rice and cutlets, look after military matters yourself!' Yes... That was the answer I got!"
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!"
That same night, Rostov was with a platoon on skirmishing duty in front of Bagration's detachment. His hussars were placed along the line in couples and he himself rode along the line trying to master the sleepiness that kept coming over him. An enormous space, with our army's campfires dimly glowing in the fog, could be seen behind him; 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 glimmer where the enemy ought to be, now he fancied it was only something in his own eyes. His eyes kept closing, and in his fancy appeared--now the Emperor, now Denisov, and now Moscow memories--and he again hurriedly opened his eyes and saw close before him the head and ears of the horse he was riding, and sometimes, when he came within six paces of them, the black figures of hussars, but in the distance was still the same misty darkness. "Why not?... It might easily happen," thought Rostov, "that the Emperor will meet me and give me an order as he would to any other officer; he'll say: 'Go and find out what's there.' There are many stories of his getting to know an officer in just such a chance way and attaching him to himself! What if he gave me a place near him? Oh, how I would guard him, how I would tell him the truth, how I would unmask his deceivers!" And in order to realize vividly his love devotion to the sovereign, Rostov pictured to himself an enemy or a deceitful German, whom he would not only kill with pleasure but whom he would slap in the face before the Emperor. Suddenly a distant shout aroused him. He started and opened his eyes.
"Where am I? Oh yes, in the skirmishing line... pass and watchword--shaft, Olmutz. What a nuisance that our squadron will be in reserve tomorrow," he thought. "I'll ask leave to go to the front, this may be my only chance of seeing the Emperor. It won't be long now before I am off duty. I'll take another turn and when I get back I'll go to the general and ask him." He readjusted himself in the saddle and touched up his horse to ride once more round his hussars. It seemed to him that it was getting lighter. To the left he saw a sloping descent lit up, and facing it a black knoll that seemed as steep as a wall. On this knoll there was a white patch that Rostov could not at all make out: was it a glade in the wood lit up by the moon, or some unmelted snow, or some white houses? He even thought something moved on that white spot. "I expect it's snow... that spot... a spot--une tache," he thought. "There now... it's not a tache... Natasha... sister, black eyes... Na... tasha... (Won't she be surprised when I tell her how I've seen the Emperor?) Natasha... take my sabretache..."--"Keep to the right, your honor, there are bushes here," came the voice of an hussar, past whom Rostov was riding in the act of falling asleep. Rostov lifted his head that had sunk almost to his horse's mane and pulled up beside the hussar. He was succumbing to irresistible, youthful, childish drowsiness. "But what was I thinking? I mustn't forget. How shall I speak to the Emperor? No, that's not it--that's tomorrow. Oh yes! Natasha... sabretache... saber them...Whom? The hussars... Ah, the hussars with mustaches. Along the Tverskaya Street rode the hussar with mustaches... I thought about him too, just opposite Guryev's house... Old Guryev.... Oh, but Denisov's a fine fellow. But that's all nonsense. The chief thing is that the Emperor is here. How he looked at me and wished to say something, but dared not.... No, it was I who dared not. But that's nonsense, the chief thing is not to forget the important thing I was thinking of. Yes, Na-tasha, sabretache, oh, yes, yes! That's right!" And his head once more sank to his horse's neck. All at once it seemed to him that he was being fired at. "What? What? What?... Cut them down! What?..." said Rostov, waking up. At the moment he opened his eyes he heard in front of him, where the enemy was, the long-drawn shouts of thousands of voices. His horse and the horse of the hussar near him pricked their ears at these shouts. Over there, where the shouting came from, a fire flared up and went out again, then another, and all along the French line on the hill fires flared up and the shouting grew louder and louder. Rostov could hear the sound of French words but could not distinguish them. The din of many voices was too great; all he could hear was: "ahahah!" and "rrrr!"
"What's that? What do you make of it?" said Rostov to the hussar beside him. "That must be the enemy's camp!"
The hussar did not reply.
"Why, don't you hear it?" Rostov asked again, after waiting for a reply.
"Who can tell, your honor?" replied the hussar reluctantly.
"From the direction, it must be the enemy," repeated Rostov.
"It may be he or it may be nothing," muttered the hussar. "It's dark... Steady!" he cried to his fidgeting horse.
Rostov's horse was also getting restive: it pawed the frozen ground, pricking its ears at the noise and looking at the lights. The shouting grew still louder and merged into a general roar that only an army of several thousand men could produce. The lights spread farther and farther, probably along the line of the French camp. Rostov no longer wanted to sleep. The gay triumphant shouting of the enemy army had a stimulating effect on him. "Vive l'Empereur! L'Empereur!" he now heard distinctly.
"They can't be far off, probably just beyond the stream," he said to the hussar beside him.
The hussar only sighed without replying and coughed angrily. The sound of horse's hoofs approaching at a trot along the line of hussars was heard, and out of the foggy darkness the figure of a sergeant of hussars suddenly appeared, looming huge as an elephant.
"Your honor, the generals!" said the sergeant, riding up to Rostov.
Rostov, still looking round toward the fires and the shouts, rode with the sergeant to meet some mounted men who were riding along the line. One was on a white horse. Prince Bagration and Prince Dolgorukov with their adjutants had come to witness the curious phenomenon of the lights and shouts in the enemy's camp. Rostov rode up to Bagration, reported to him, and then joined the adjutants listening to what the generals were saying.
"Believe me," said Prince Dolgorukov, addressing Bagration, "it is nothing but a trick! He has retreated and ordered the rearguard to kindle fires and make a noise to deceive us."
"Hardly," said Bagration. "I saw them this evening on that knoll; if they had retreated they would have withdrawn from that too.... Officer!" said Bagration to Rostov, "are the enemy's skirmishers still there?"
"They were there this evening, but now I don't know, your excellency. Shall I go with some of my hussars to see?" replied Rostov.
Bagration stopped and, before replying, tried to see Rostov's face in the mist.
"Well, go and see," he said, after a pause.
Rostov spurred his horse, called to Sergeant Fedchenko and two other hussars, told them to follow him, and trotted downhill in the direction from which the shouting came. He felt both frightened and pleased to be riding alone with three hussars into that mysterious and dangerous misty distance where no one had been before him. Bagration called to him from the hill not to go beyond the stream, but Rostov pretended not to hear him and did not stop but rode on and on, continually mistaking bushes for trees and gullies for men and continually discovering his mistakes. Having descended the hill at a trot, he no longer saw either our own or the enemy's fires, but heard the shouting of the French more loudly and distinctly. In the valley he saw before him something like a river, but when he reached it he found it was a road. Having come out onto the road he reined in his horse, hesitating whether to ride along it or cross it and ride over the black field up the hillside. To keep to the road which gleamed white in the mist would have been safer because it would be easier to see people coming along it. "Follow me!" said he, crossed the road, and began riding up the hill at a gallop toward the point where the French pickets had been standing that evening.
"Your honor, there he is!" cried one of the hussars behind him. And before Rostov had time to make out what the black thing was that had suddenly appeared in the fog, there was a flash, followed by a report, and a bullet whizzing high up in the mist with a plaintive sound passed out of hearing. Another musket missed fire but flashed in the pan. Rostov turned his horse and galloped back. Four more reports followed at intervals, and the bullets passed somewhere in the fog singing in different tones. Rostov reined in his horse, whose spirits had risen, like his own, at the firing, and went back at a footpace. "Well, some more! Some more!" a merry voice was saying in his soul. But no more shots came.
Only when approaching Bagration did Rostov let his horse gallop again, and with his hand at the salute rode up to the general.
Dolgorukov was still insisting that the French had retreated and had only lit fires to deceive us.
"What does that prove?" he was saying as Rostov rode up. "They might retreat and leave the pickets."
"It's plain that they have not all gone yet, Prince," said Bagration. "Wait till tomorrow morning, we'll find out everything tomorrow."
"The picket is still on the hill, your excellency, just where it was in the evening," reported Rostov, stooping forward with his hand at the salute and unable to repress the smile of delight induced by his ride and especially by the sound of the bullets.
"Very good, very good," said Bagration. "Thank you, officer."
"Your excellency," said Rostov, "may I ask a favor?"
"What is it?"
"Tomorrow our squadron is to be in reserve. May I ask to be attached to the first squadron?"
"What's your name?"
"Oh, very well, you may stay in attendance on me."
"Count Ilya Rostov's son?" asked Dolgorukov.
But Rostov did not reply.
"Then I may reckon on it, your excellency?"
"I will give the order."
"Tomorrow very likely I may be sent with some message to the Emperor," thought Rostov.
The fires and shouting in the enemy's army were occasioned by the fact that while Napoleon's proclamation was being read to the troops the Emperor himself rode round his bivouacs. The soldiers, on seeing him, lit wisps of straw and ran after him, shouting, "Vive l'Empereur!" Napoleon's proclamation was as follows:
Soldiers! The Russian army is advancing against you to avenge the Austrian army of Ulm. They are the same battalions you broke at Hollabrunn and have pursued ever since to this place. The position we occupy is a strong one, and while they are marching to go round me on the right they will expose a flank to me. Soldiers! I will myself direct your battalions. I will keep out of fire if you with your habitual valor carry disorder and confusion into the enemy's ranks, but should victory be in doubt, even for a moment, you will see your Emperor exposing himself to the first blows of the enemy, for there must be no doubt of victory, especially on this day when what is at stake is the honor of the French infantry, so necessary to the honor of our nation.
Do not break your ranks on the plea of removing the wounded! Let every man be fully imbued with the thought that we must defeat these hirelings of England, inspired by such hatred of our nation! This victory will conclude our campaign and we can return to winter quarters, where fresh French troops who are being raised in France will join us, and the peace I shall conclude will be worthy of my people, of you, and of myself.
At five in the morning it was still quite dark. The troops of the center, 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 French right flank and drive it into the Bohemian mountains according to plan, were already up and astir. The smoke of the campfires, into which they were throwing everything superfluous, made the eyes smart. It was cold and dark. The officers were hurriedly drinking tea and breakfasting, the soldiers, munching biscuit and beating a tattoo with their feet to warm themselves, gathering round the fires throwing into the flames the remains of sheds, chairs, tables, wheels, tubs, and everything that they did not want or could not carry away with them. Austrian column guides were moving in and out among the Russian troops and served as heralds of the advance. As soon as an Austrian officer showed himself near a commanding officer's quarters, the regiment began to move: the soldiers ran from the fires, thrust their pipes into their boots, their bags into the carts, got their muskets ready, and formed rank. The officers buttoned up their coats, buckled on their swords and pouches, and moved along the ranks shouting. The train drivers and orderlies harnessed and packed the wagons and tied on the loads. The adjutants and battalion and regimental commanders mounted, crossed themselves, gave final instructions, orders, and commissions to the baggage men who remained behind, and the monotonous tramp of thousands of feet resounded. The column moved forward without knowing where and unable, from the masses around them, the smoke and the increasing fog, to see either the place they were leaving or that to which they were going.
A soldier on the march is hemmed in and borne along by his regiment as much as a sailor is by his ship. However far he has walked, whatever strange, unknown, and dangerous places he reaches, just as a sailor is always surrounded by the same decks, masts, and rigging of his ship, so the soldier always has around him the same comrades, the same ranks, the same sergeant major Ivan Mitrich, the same company dog Jack, and the same commanders. The sailor rarely cares to know the latitude in which his ship is sailing, but on the day of battle--heaven knows how and whence--a stern note of which all are conscious sounds in the moral atmosphere of an army, announcing the approach of something decisive and solemn, and awakening in the men an unusual curiosity. On the day of battle the soldiers excitedly try to get beyond the interests of their regiment, they listen intently, look about, and eagerly ask concerning what is going on around them.
The fog had grown so dense that though it was growing light they could not see ten paces ahead. Bushes looked like gigantic trees and level ground like cliffs and slopes. Anywhere, on any side, one might encounter an enemy invisible ten paces off. But the columns advanced for a long time, always in the same fog, descending and ascending hills, avoiding gardens and enclosures, going over new and unknown ground, and nowhere encountering the enemy. On the contrary, the soldiers became aware that in front, behind, and on all sides, other Russian columns were moving in the same direction. Every soldier felt glad to know that to the unknown place where he was going, many more of our men were going too.
"There now, the Kurskies have also gone past," was being said in the ranks.
"It's wonderful what a lot of our troops have gathered, lads! Last night I looked at the campfires and there was no end of them. A regular Moscow!"
Though none of the column commanders rode up to the ranks or talked to the men (the commanders, as we saw at the council of war, were out of humor and dissatisfied with the affair, and so did not exert themselves to cheer the men but merely carried out the orders), yet the troops marched gaily, as they always do when going into action, especially to an attack. But when they had marched for about an hour in the dense fog, the greater part of the men had to halt and an unpleasant consciousness of some dislocation and blunder spread through the ranks. How such a consciousness is communicated is very difficult to define, but it certainly is communicated very surely, and flows rapidly, imperceptibly, and irrepressibly, as water does in a creek. Had the Russian army been alone without any allies, it might perhaps have been a long time before this consciousness of mismanagement became a general conviction, but as it was, the disorder was readily and naturally attributed to the stupid Germans, and everyone was convinced that a dangerous muddle had been occasioned by the sausage eaters.
"Why have we stopped? Is the way blocked? Or have we already come up against the French?"
"No, one can't hear them. They'd be firing if we had."
"They were in a hurry enough to start us, and now here we stand in the middle of a field without rhyme or reason. It's all those damned Germans' muddling! What stupid devils!"
"Yes, I'd send them on in front, but no fear, they're crowding up behind. And now here we stand hungry."
"I say, shall we soon be clear? They say the cavalry are blocking the way," said an officer.
"Ah, those damned Germans! They don't know their own country!" said another.
"What division are you?" shouted an adjutant, riding up.
"Then why are you here? You should have gone on long ago, now you won't get there till evening."
"What stupid orders! They don't themselves know what they are doing!" said the officer and rode off.
Then a general rode past shouting something angrily, not in Russian.
"Tafa-lafa! But what he's jabbering no one can make out," said a soldier, mimicking the general who had ridden away. "I'd shoot them, the scoundrels!"
"We were ordered to be at the place before nine, but we haven't got halfway. Fine orders!" was being repeated on different sides.
And the feeling of energy with which the troops had started began to turn into vexation and anger at the stupid arrangements and at the Germans.
The cause of the confusion was that while the Austrian cavalry was moving toward our left flank, the higher command found that our center was too far separated from our right flank and the cavalry were all ordered to turn back to the right. Several thousand cavalry crossed in front of the infantry, who had to wait.
At the front an altercation occurred between an Austrian guide and a Russian general. The general shouted a demand that the cavalry should be halted, the Austrian argued that not he, but the higher command, was to blame. The troops meanwhile stood growing listless and dispirited. After an hour's delay they at last moved on, descending the hill. The fog that was dispersing on the hill lay still more densely below, where they were descending. In front in the fog a shot was heard and then another, at first irregularly at varying intervals--trata... tat--and then more and more regularly and rapidly, and the action at the Goldbach Stream began.
Not expecting to come on the enemy down by the stream, and having stumbled on him in the fog, hearing no encouraging word from their commanders, and with a consciousness of being too late spreading through the ranks, and above all being unable to see anything in front or around them in the thick fog, the Russians exchanged shots with the enemy lazily and advanced and again halted, receiving no timely orders from the officers or adjutants who wandered about in the fog in those unknown surroundings unable to find their own regiments. In this way the action began for the first, second, and third columns, which had gone down into the valley. The fourth column, with which Kutuzov was, stood on the Pratzen Heights.
Below, where the fight was beginning, there was still thick fog; on the higher ground it was clearing, but nothing could be seen of what was going on in front. Whether all the enemy forces were, as we supposed, six miles away, or whether they were near by in that sea of mist, no one knew till after eight o'clock.
It was nine o'clock in the morning. The fog lay unbroken like a sea down below, but higher up at the village of Schlappanitz where Napoleon stood with his marshals around him, it was quite light. Above him was a clear blue sky, and the sun's vast orb quivered like a huge hollow, crimson float on the surface of that milky sea of mist. The whole French army, and even Napoleon himself with his staff, were not on the far side of the streams and hollows of Sokolnitz and Schlappanitz beyond which we intended to take up our position and begin the action, but were on this side, so close to our own forces that Napoleon with the naked eye could distinguish a mounted man from one on foot. Napoleon, in the blue cloak which he had worn on his Italian campaign, sat on his small gray Arab horse a little in front of his marshals. He gazed silently at the hills which seemed to rise out of the sea of mist and on which the Russian troops were moving in the distance, and he listened to the sounds of firing in the valley. Not a single muscle of his face--which in those days was still thin--moved. His gleaming eyes were fixed intently on one spot. His predictions were being justified. Part of the Russian force had already descended into the valley toward the ponds and lakes and part were leaving these Pratzen Heights which he intended to attack and regarded as the key to the position. He saw over the mist that in a hollow between two hills near the village of Pratzen, the Russian columns, their bayonets glittering, were moving continuously in one direction toward the valley and disappearing one after another into the mist. From information he had received the evening before, from the sound of wheels and footsteps heard by the outposts during the night, by the disorderly movement of the Russian columns, and from all indications, he saw clearly that the allies believed him to be far away in front of them, and that the columns moving near Pratzen constituted the center of the Russian army, and that that center was already sufficiently weakened to be successfully attacked. But still he did not begin the engagement.
Today was a great day for him--the anniversary of his coronation. Before dawn he had slept for a few hours, and refreshed, vigorous, and in good spirits, he mounted his horse and rode out into the field in that happy mood in which everything seems possible and everything succeeds. He sat motionless, looking at the heights visible above the mist, and his cold face wore that special look of confident, self-complacent happiness that one sees on the face of a boy happily in love. The marshals stood behind him not venturing to distract his attention. He looked now at the Pratzen Heights, now at the sun floating up out of the mist.
When the sun had entirely emerged from the fog, and fields and mist were aglow with dazzling light--as if he had only awaited this to begin the action--he drew the glove from his shapely white hand, made a sign with it to the marshals, and ordered the action to begin. The marshals, accompanied by adjutants, galloped off in different directions, and a few minutes later the chief forces of the French army moved rapidly toward those Pratzen Heights which were being more and more denuded by Russian troops moving down the valley to their left.
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."
"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 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.