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!..."
On our right flank commanded by Bagration, at nine o'clock the battle had not yet begun. Not wishing to agree to Dolgorukov's demand to commence the action, and wishing to avert responsibility from himself, Prince Bagration proposed to Dolgorukov to send to inquire of the commander in chief. Bagration knew that as the distance between the two flanks was more than six miles, even if the messenger were not killed (which he very likely would be), and found the commander in chief (which would be very difficult), he would not be able to get back before evening.
Bagration cast his large, expressionless, sleepy eyes round his suite, and the boyish face Rostov, breathless with excitement and hope, was the first to catch his eye. He sent him.
"And if I should meet His Majesty before I meet the commander in chief, your excellency?" said Rostov, with his hand to his cap.
"You can give the message to His Majesty," said Dolgorukov, hurriedly interrupting Bagration.
On being relieved from picket duty Rostov had managed to get a few hours' sleep before morning and felt cheerful, bold, and resolute, with elasticity of movement, faith in his good fortune, and generally in that state of mind which makes everything seem possible, pleasant, and easy.
All his wishes were being fulfilled that morning: there was to be a general engagement in which he was taking part, more than that, he was orderly to the bravest general, and still more, he was going with a message to Kutuzov, perhaps even to the sovereign himself. The morning was bright, he had a good horse under him, and his heart was full of joy and happiness. On receiving the order he gave his horse the rein and galloped along the line. At first he rode along the line of Bagration's troops, which had not yet advanced into action but were standing motionless; then he came to the region occupied by Uvarov's cavalry and here he noticed a stir and signs of preparation for battle; having passed Uvarov's cavalry he clearly heard the sound of cannon and musketry ahead of him. The firing grew louder and louder.
In the fresh morning air were now heard, not two or three musket shots at irregular intervals as before, followed by one or two cannon shots, but a roll of volleys of musketry from the slopes of the hill before Pratzen, interrupted by such frequent reports of cannon that sometimes several of them were not separated from one another but merged into a general roar.
He could see puffs of musketry smoke that seemed to chase one another down the hillsides, and clouds of cannon smoke rolling, spreading, and mingling with one another. He could also, by the gleam of bayonets visible through the smoke, make out moving masses of infantry and narrow lines of artillery with green caissons.
Rostov stopped his horse for a moment on a hillock to see what was going on, but strain his attention as he would he could not understand or make out anything of what was happening: there in the smoke men of some sort were moving about, in front and behind moved lines of troops; but why, whither, and who they were, it was impossible to make out. These sights and sounds had no depressing or intimidating effect on him; on the contrary, they stimulated his energy and determination.
"Go on! Go on! Give it them!" he mentally exclaimed at these sounds, and again proceeded to gallop along the line, penetrating farther and farther into the region where the army was already in action.
"How it will be there I don't know, but all will be well!" thought Rostov.
After passing some Austrian troops he noticed that the next part of the line (the Guards) was already in action.
"So much the better! I shall see it close," he thought.
He was riding almost along the front line. A handful of men came galloping toward him. They were our Uhlans who with disordered ranks were returning from the attack. Rostov got out of their way, involuntarily noticed that one of them was bleeding, and galloped on.
"That is no business of mine," he thought. He had not ridden many hundred yards after that before he saw to his left, across the whole width of the field, an enormous mass of cavalry in brilliant white uniforms, mounted on black horses, trotting straight toward him and across his path. Rostov put his horse to full gallop to get out of the way of these men, and he would have got clear had they continued at the same speed, but they kept increasing their pace, so that some of the horses were already galloping. Rostov heard the thud of their hoofs and the jingle of their weapons and saw their horses, their figures, and even their faces, more and more distinctly. They were our Horse Guards, advancing to attack the French cavalry that was coming to meet them.
The Horse Guards were galloping, but still holding in their horses. Rostov could already see their faces and heard the command: "Charge!" shouted by an officer who was urging his thoroughbred to full speed. Rostov, fearing to be crushed or swept into the attack on the French, galloped along the front as hard as his horse could go, but still was not in time to avoid them.
The last of the Horse Guards, a huge pockmarked fellow, frowned angrily on seeing Rostov before him, with whom he would inevitably collide. This Guardsman would certainly have bowled Rostov and his Bedouin over (Rostov felt himself quite tiny and weak compared to these gigantic men and horses) had it not occurred to Rostov to flourish his whip before the eyes of the Guardsman's horse. The heavy black horse, sixteen hands high, shied, throwing back its ears; but the pockmarked Guardsman drove his huge spurs in violently, and the horse, flourishing its tail and extending its neck, galloped on yet faster. Hardly had the Horse Guards passed Rostov before he heard them shout, "Hurrah!" and looking back saw that their foremost ranks were mixed up with some foreign cavalry with red epaulets, probably French. He could see nothing more, for immediately afterwards cannon began firing from somewhere and smoke enveloped everything.
At that moment, as the Horse Guards, having passed him, disappeared in the smoke, Rostov hesitated whether to gallop after them or to go where he was sent. This was the brilliant charge of the Horse Guards that amazed the French themselves. Rostov was horrified to hear later that of all that mass of huge and handsome men, of all those brilliant, rich youths, officers and cadets, who had galloped past him on their thousand-ruble horses, only eighteen were left after the charge.
"Why should I envy them? My chance is not lost, and maybe I shall see the Emperor immediately!" thought Rostov and galloped on.
When he came level with the Foot Guards he noticed that about them and around them cannon balls were flying, of which he was aware not so much because he heard their sound as because he saw uneasiness on the soldiers' faces and unnatural warlike solemnity on those of the officers.
Passing behind one of the lines of a regiment of Foot Guards he heard a voice calling him by name.
"What?" he answered, not recognizing Boris.
"I say, we've been in the front line! Our regiment attacked!" said Boris with the happy smile seen on the faces of young men who have been under fire for the first time.
"Have you?" he said. "Well, how did it go?"
"We drove them back!" said Boris with animation, growing talkative. "Can you imagine it?" and he began describing how the Guards, having taken up their position and seeing troops before them, thought they were Austrians, and all at once discovered from the cannon balls discharged by those troops that they were themselves in the front line and had unexpectedly to go into action. Rostov without hearing Boris to the end spurred his horse.
"Where are you off to?" asked Boris.
"With a message to His Majesty."
"There he is!" said Boris, thinking Rostov had said "His Highness," and pointing to the Grand Duke who with his high shoulders and frowning brows stood a hundred paces away from them in his helmet and Horse Guards' jacket, shouting something to a pale, white uniformed Austrian officer.
"But that's the Grand Duke, and I want the commander in chief or the Emperor," said Rostov, and was about to spur his horse.
"Count! Count!" shouted Berg who ran up from the other side as eager as Boris. "Count! I am wounded in my right hand" (and he showed his bleeding hand with a handkerchief tied round it) "and I remained at the front. I held my sword in my left hand, Count. All our family--the von Bergs--have been knights!"
He said something more, but Rostov did not wait to hear it and rode away.
Having passed the Guards and traversed an empty space, Rostov, to avoid again getting in front of the first line as he had done when the Horse Guards charged, followed the line of reserves, going far round the place where the hottest musket fire and cannonade were heard. Suddenly he heard musket fire quite close in front of him and behind our troops, where he could never have expected the enemy to be.
"What can it be?" he thought. "The enemy in the rear of our army? Impossible!" And suddenly he was seized by a panic of fear for himself and for the issue of the whole battle. "But be that what it may," he reflected, "there is no riding round it now. I must look for the commander in chief here, and if all is lost it is for me to perish with the rest."
The foreboding of evil that had suddenly come over Rostov was more and more confirmed the farther he rode into the region behind the village of Pratzen, which was full of troops of all kinds.
"What does it mean? What is it? Whom are they firing at? Who is firing?" Rostov kept asking as he came up to Russian and Austrian soldiers running in confused crowds across his path.
"The devil knows! They've killed everybody! It's all up now!" he was told in Russian, German, and Czech by the crowd of fugitives who understood what was happening as little as he did.
"Kill the Germans!" shouted one.
"May the devil take them--the traitors!"
"Zum Henker diese Russen!"* muttered a German.
*"Hang these Russians!"
Several wounded men passed along the road, and words of abuse, screams, and groans mingled in a general hubbub, then the firing died down. Rostov learned later that Russian and Austrian soldiers had been firing at one another.
"My God! What does it all mean?" thought he. "And here, where at any moment the Emperor may see them.... But no, these must be only a handful of scoundrels. It will soon be over, it can't be that, it can't be! Only to get past them quicker, quicker!"
The idea of defeat and flight could not enter Rostov's head. Though he saw French cannon and French troops on the Pratzen Heights just where he had been ordered to look for the commander in chief, he could not, did not wish to, believe that.
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.
On the Pratzen Heights, where he had fallen with the flagstaff in his hand, lay Prince Andrew Bolkonski bleeding profusely and unconsciously uttering a gentle, piteous, and childlike moan.
Toward evening he ceased moaning and became quite still. He did not know how long his unconsciousness lasted. Suddenly he again felt that he was alive and suffering from a burning, lacerating pain in his head.
"Where is it, that lofty sky that I did not know till now, but saw today?" was his first thought. "And I did not know this suffering either," he thought. "Yes, I did not know anything, anything at all till now. But where am I?"
He listened and heard the sound of approaching horses, and voices speaking French. He opened his eyes. Above him again was the same lofty sky with clouds that had risen and were floating still higher, and between them gleamed blue infinity. He did not turn his head and did not see those who, judging by the sound of hoofs and voices, had ridden up and stopped near him.
It was Napoleon accompanied by two aides-de-camp. Bonaparte riding over the battlefield had given final orders to strengthen the batteries firing at the Augesd Dam and was looking at the killed and wounded left on the field.
"Fine men!" remarked Napoleon, looking at a dead Russian grenadier, who, with his face buried in the ground and a blackened nape, lay on his stomach with an already stiffened arm flung wide.
"The ammunition for the guns in position is exhausted, Your Majesty," said an adjutant who had come from the batteries that were firing at Augesd.
"Have some brought from the reserve," said Napoleon, and having gone on a few steps he stopped before Prince Andrew, who lay on his back with the flagstaff that had been dropped beside him. (The flag had already been taken by the French as a trophy.)
"That's a fine death!" said Napoleon as he gazed at Bolkonski.
Prince Andrew understood that this was said of him and that it was Napoleon who said it. He heard the speaker addressed as Sire. But he heard the words as he might have heard the buzzing of a fly. Not only did they not interest him, but he took no notice of them and at once forgot them. His head was burning, he felt himself bleeding to death, and he saw above him the remote, lofty, and everlasting sky. He knew it was Napoleon--his hero--but at that moment Napoleon seemed to him such a small, insignificant creature compared with what was passing now between himself and that lofty infinite sky with the clouds flying over it. At that moment it meant nothing to him who might be standing over him, or what was said of him; he was only glad that people were standing near him and only wished that they would help him and bring him back to life, which seemed to him so beautiful now that he had today learned to understand it so differently. He collected all his strength, to stir and utter a sound. He feebly moved his leg and uttered a weak, sickly groan which aroused his own pity.
"Ah! He is alive," said Napoleon. "Lift this young man up and carry him to the dressing station."
Having said this, Napoleon rode on to meet Marshal Lannes, who, hat in hand, rode up smiling to the Emperor to congratulate him on the victory.
Prince Andrew remembered nothing more: he lost consciousness from the terrible pain of being lifted onto the stretcher, the jolting while being moved, and the probing of his wound at the dressing station. He did not regain consciousness till late in the day, when with other wounded and captured Russian officers he was carried to the hospital. During this transfer he felt a little stronger and was able to look about him and even speak.
The first words he heard on coming to his senses were those of a French convoy officer, who said rapidly: "We must halt here: the Emperor will pass here immediately; it will please him to see these gentlemen prisoners."
"There are so many prisoners today, nearly the whole Russian army, that he is probably tired of them," said another officer.
"All the same! They say this one is the commander of all the Emperor Alexander's Guards," said the first one, indicating a Russian officer in the white uniform of the Horse Guards.
Bolkonski recognized Prince Repnin whom he had met in Petersburg society. Beside him stood a lad of nineteen, also a wounded officer of the Horse Guards.
Bonaparte, having come up at a gallop, stopped his horse.
"Which is the senior?" he asked, on seeing the prisoners.
They named the colonel, Prince Repnin.
"You are the commander of the Emperor Alexander's regiment of Horse Guards?" asked Napoleon.
"I commanded a squadron," replied Repnin.
"Your regiment fulfilled its duty honorably," said Napoleon.
"The praise of a great commander is a soldier's highest reward," said Repnin.
"I bestow it with pleasure," said Napoleon. "And who is that young man beside you?"
Prince Repnin named Lieutenant Sukhtelen.
After looking at him Napoleon smiled.
"He's very young to come to meddle with us."
"Youth is no hindrance to courage," muttered Sukhtelen in a failing voice.
"A splendid reply!" said Napoleon. "Young man, you will go far!"
Prince Andrew, who had also been brought forward before the Emperor's eyes to complete the show of prisoners, could not fail to attract his attention. Napoleon apparently remembered seeing him on the battlefield and, addressing him, again used the epithet "young man" that was connected in his memory with Prince Andrew.
"Well, and you, young man," said he. "How do you feel, mon brave?"
Though five minutes before, Prince Andrew had been able to say a few words to the soldiers who were carrying him, now with his eyes fixed straight on Napoleon, he was silent.... So insignificant at that moment seemed to him all the interests that engrossed Napoleon, so mean did his hero himself with his paltry vanity and joy in victory appear, compared to the lofty, equitable, and kindly sky which he had seen and understood, that he could not answer him.
Everything seemed so futile and insignificant in comparison with the stern and solemn train of thought that weakness from loss of blood, suffering, and the nearness of death aroused in him. Looking into Napoleon's eyes Prince Andrew thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life which no one could understand, and the still greater unimportance of death, the meaning of which no one alive could understand or explain.
The Emperor without waiting for an answer turned away and said to one of the officers as he went: "Have these gentlemen attended to and taken to my bivouac; let my doctor, Larrey, examine their wounds. Au revoir, Prince Repnin!" and he spurred his horse and galloped away.
His face shone with self-satisfaction and pleasure.
The soldiers who had carried Prince Andrew had noticed and taken the little gold icon Princess Mary had hung round her brother's neck, but seeing the favor the Emperor showed the prisoners, they now hastened to return the holy image.
Prince Andrew did not see how and by whom it was replaced, but the little icon with its thin gold chain suddenly appeared upon his chest outside his uniform.
"It would be good," thought Prince Andrew, glancing at the icon his sister had hung round his neck with such emotion and reverence, "it would be good if everything were as clear and simple as it seems to Mary. How good it would be to know where to seek for help in this life, and what to expect after it beyond the grave! How happy and calm I should be if I could now say: 'Lord, have mercy on me!'... But to whom should I say that? Either to a Power indefinable, incomprehensible, which I not only cannot address but which I cannot even express in words--the Great All or Nothing-" said he to himself, "or to that God who has been sewn into this amulet by Mary! There is nothing certain, nothing at all except the unimportance of everything I understand, and the greatness of something incomprehensible but all-important."
The stretchers moved on. At every jolt he again felt unendurable pain; his feverishness increased and he grew delirious. Visions of his father, wife, sister, and future son, and the tenderness he had felt the night before the battle, the figure of the insignificant little Napoleon, and above all this the lofty sky, formed the chief subjects of his delirious fancies.
The quiet home life and peaceful happiness of Bald Hills presented itself to him. He was already enjoying that happiness when that little Napoleon had suddenly appeared with his unsympathizing look of shortsighted delight at the misery of others, and doubts and torments had followed, and only the heavens promised peace. Toward morning all these dreams melted and merged into the chaos and darkness of unconciousness and oblivion which in the opinion of Napoleon's doctor, Larrey, was much more likely to end in death than in convalescence.
"He is a nervous, bilious subject," said Larrey, "and will not recover."
And Prince Andrew, with others fatally wounded, was left to the care of the inhabitants of the district.