It was long since the Rostovs had news of Nicholas. Not till midwinter was the count at last handed a letter addressed in his son's handwriting. On receiving it, he ran on tiptoe to his study in alarm and haste, trying to escape notice, closed the door, and began to read the letter.
Anna Mikhaylovna, who always knew everything that passed in the house, on hearing of the arrival of the letter went softly into the room and found the count with it in his hand, sobbing and laughing at the same time.
Anna Mikhaylovna, though her circumstances had improved, was still living with the Rostovs.
"My dear friend?" said she, in a tone of pathetic inquiry, prepared to sympathize in any way.
The count sobbed yet more.
"Nikolenka... a letter... wa... a... s... wounded... my darling boy... the countess... promoted to be an officer... thank God... How tell the little countess!"
Anna Mikhaylovna sat down beside him, with her own handkerchief wiped the tears from his eyes and from the letter, then having dried her own eyes she comforted the count, and decided that at dinner and till teatime she would prepare the countess, and after tea, with God's help, would inform her.
At dinner Anna Mikhaylovna talked the whole time about the war news and about Nikolenka, twice asked when the last letter had been received from him, though she knew that already, and remarked that they might very likely be getting a letter from him that day. Each time that these hints began to make the countess anxious and she glanced uneasily at the count and at Anna Mikhaylovna, the latter very adroitly turned the conversation to insignificant matters. Natasha, who, of the whole family, was the most gifted with a capacity to feel any shades of intonation, look, and expression, pricked up her ears from the beginning of the meal and was certain that there was some secret between her father and Anna Mikhaylovna, that it had something to do with her brother, and that Anna Mikhaylovna was preparing them for it. Bold as she was, Natasha, who knew how sensitive her mother was to anything relating to Nikolenka, did not venture to ask any questions at dinner, but she was too excited to eat anything and kept wriggling about on her chair regardless of her governess' remarks. After dinner, she rushed head long after Anna Mikhaylovna and, dashing at her, flung herself on her neck as soon as she overtook her in the sitting room.
"Auntie, darling, do tell me what it is!"
"Nothing, my dear."
"No, dearest, sweet one, honey, I won't give up--I know you know something."
Anna Mikhaylovna shook her head.
"You are a little slyboots," she said.
"A letter from Nikolenka! I'm sure of it!" exclaimed Natasha, reading confirmation in Anna Mikhaylovna's face.
"But for God's sake, be careful, you know how it may affect your mamma."
"I will, I will, only tell me! You won't? Then I will go and tell at once."
Anna Mikhaylovna, in a few words, told her the contents of the letter, on condition that she should tell no one.
"No, on my true word of honor," said Natasha, crossing herself, "I won't tell anyone!" and she ran off at once to Sonya.
"Nikolenka... wounded... a letter," she announced in gleeful triumph.
"Nicholas!" was all Sonya said, instantly turning white.
Natasha, seeing the impression the of her brother's wound produced on Sonya, felt for the first time the sorrowful side of the news.
She rushed to Sonya, hugged her, and began to cry.
"A little wound, but he has been made an officer; he is well now, he wrote himself," said she through her tears.
"There now! It's true that all you women are crybabies," remarked Petya, pacing the room with large, resolute strides. "Now I'm very glad, very glad indeed, that my brother has distinguished himself so. You are all blubberers and understand nothing."
Natasha smiled through her tears.
"You haven't read the letter?" asked Sonya.
"No, but she said that it was all over and that he's now an officer."
"Thank God!" said Sonya, crossing herself. "But perhaps she deceived you. Let us go to Mamma."
Petya paced the room in silence for a time.
"If I'd been in Nikolenka's place I would have killed even more of those Frenchmen," he said. "What nasty brutes they are! I'd have killed so many that there'd have been a heap of them."
"Hold your tongue, Petya, what a goose you are!"
"I'm not a goose, but they are who cry about trifles," said Petya.
"Do you remember him?" Natasha suddenly asked, after a moment's silence.
"Do I remember Nicholas?"
"No, Sonya, but do you remember so that you remember him perfectly, remember everything?" said Natasha, with an expressive gesture, evidently wishing to give her words a very definite meaning. "I remember Nikolenka too, I remember him well," she said. "But I don't remember Boris. I don't remember him a bit."
"What! You don't remember Boris?" asked Sonya in surprise.
"It's not that I don't remember--I know what he is like, but not as I remember Nikolenka. Him--I just shut my eyes and remember, but Boris... No!" (She shut her eyes.)"No! there's nothing at all."
"Oh, Natasha!" said Sonya, looking ecstatically and earnestly at her friend as if she did not consider her worthy to hear what she meant to say and as if she were saying it to someone else, with whom joking was out of the question, "I am in love with your brother once for all and, whatever may happen to him or to me, shall never cease to love him as long as I live."
Natasha looked at Sonya with wondering and inquisitive eyes, and said nothing. She felt that Sonya was speaking the truth, that there was such love as Sonya was speaking of. But Natasha had not yet felt anything like it. She believed it could be, but did not understand it.
"Shall you write to him?" she asked.
Sonya became thoughtful. The question of how to write to Nicholas, and whether she ought to write, tormented her. Now that he was already an officer and a wounded hero, would it be right to remind him of herself and, as it might seem, of the obligations to her he had taken on himself?
"I don't know. I think if he writes, I will write too," she said, blushing.
"And you won't feel ashamed to write to him?"
"And I should be ashamed to write to Boris. I'm not going to."
"Why should you be ashamed?"
"Well, I don't know. It's awkward and would make me ashamed."
"And I know why she'd be ashamed," said Petya, offended by Natasha's previous remark. "It's because she was in love with that fat one in spectacles" (that was how Petya described his namesake, the new Count Bezukhov) "and now she's in love with that singer" (he meant Natasha's Italian singing master), "that's why she's ashamed!"
"Petya, you're a stupid!" said Natasha.
"Not more stupid than you, madam," said the nine-year-old Petya, with the air of an old brigadier.
The countess had been prepared by Anna Mikhaylovna's hints at dinner. On retiring to her own room, she sat in an armchair, her eyes fixed on a miniature portrait of her son on the lid of a snuffbox, while the tears kept coming into her eyes. Anna Mikhaylovna, with the letter, came on tiptoe to the countess' door and paused.
"Don't come in," she said to the old count who was following her. "Come later." And she went in, closing the door behind her.
The count put his ear to the keyhole and listened.
At first he heard the sound of indifferent voices, then Anna Mikhaylovna's voice alone in a long speech, then a cry, then silence, then both voices together with glad intonations, and then footsteps. Anna Mikhaylovna opened the door. Her face wore the proud expression of a surgeon who has just performed a difficult operation and admits the public to appreciate his skill.
"It is done!" she said to the count, pointing triumphantly to the countess, who sat holding in one hand the snuffbox with its portrait and in the other the letter, and pressing them alternately to her lips.
When she saw the count, she stretched out her arms to him, embraced his bald head, over which she again looked at the letter and the portrait, and in order to press them again to her lips, she slightly pushed away the bald head. Vera, Natasha, Sonya, and Petya now entered the room, and the reading of the letter began. After a brief description of the campaign and the two battles in which he had taken part, and his promotion, Nicholas said that he kissed his father's and mother's hands asking for their blessing, and that he kissed Vera, Natasha, and Petya. Besides that, he sent greetings to Monsieur Schelling, Madame Schoss, and his old nurse, and asked them to kiss for him "dear Sonya, whom he loved and thought of just the same as ever." When she heard this Sonya blushed so that tears came into her eyes and, unable to bear the looks turned upon her, ran away into the dancing hall, whirled round it at full speed with her dress puffed out like a balloon, and, flushed and smiling, plumped down on the floor. The countess was crying.
"Why are you crying, Mamma?" asked Vera. "From all he says one should be glad and not cry."
This was quite true, but the count, the countess, and Natasha looked at her reproachfully. "And who is it she takes after?" thought the countess.
Nicholas' letter was read over hundreds of times, and those who were considered worthy to hear it had to come to the countess, for she did not let it out of her hands. The tutors came, and the nurses, and Dmitri, and several acquaintances, and the countess reread the letter each time with fresh pleasure and each time discovered in it fresh proofs of Nikolenka's virtues. How strange, how extraordinary, how joyful it seemed, that her son, the scarcely perceptible motion of whose tiny limbs she had felt twenty years ago within her, that son about whom she used to have quarrels with the too indulgent count, that son who had first learned to say "pear" and then "granny," that this son should now be away in a foreign land amid strange surroundings, a manly warrior doing some kind of man's work of his own, without help or guidance. The universal experience of ages, showing that children do grow imperceptibly from the cradle to manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son's growth toward manhood, at each of its stages, had seemed as extraordinary to her as if there had never existed the millions of human beings who grew up in the same way. As twenty years before, it seemed impossible that the little creature who lived somewhere under her heart would ever cry, suck her breast, and begin to speak, so now she could not believe that that little creature could be this strong, brave man, this model son and officer that, judging by this letter, he now was.
"What a style! How charmingly he describes!" said she, reading the descriptive part of the letter. "And what a soul! Not a word about himself.... Not a word! About some Denisov or other, though he himself, I dare say, is braver than any of them. He says nothing about his sufferings. What a heart! How like him it is! And how he has remembered everybody! Not forgetting anyone. I always said when he was only so high--I always said...."
For more than a week preparations were being made, rough drafts of letters to Nicholas from all the household were written and copied out, while under the supervision of the countess and the solicitude of the count, money and all things necessary for the uniform and equipment of the newly commissioned officer were collected. Anna Mikhaylovna, practical woman that she was, had even managed by favor with army authorities to secure advantageous means of communication for herself and her son. She had opportunities of sending her letters to the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, who commanded the Guards. The Rostovs supposed that The Russian Guards, Abroad, was quite a definite address, and that if a letter reached the Grand Duke in command of the Guards there was no reason why it should not reach the Pavlograd regiment, which was presumably somewhere in the same neighborhood. And so it was decided to send the letters and money by the Grand Duke's courier to Boris and Boris was to forward them to Nicholas. The letters were from the old count, the countess, Petya, Vera, Natasha, and Sonya, and finally there were six thousand rubles for his outfit and various other things the old count sent to his son.
On the twelfth of November, Kutuzov's active army, in camp before Olmutz, was preparing to be reviewed next day by the two Emperors--the Russian and the Austrian. The Guards, just arrived from Russia, spent the night ten miles from Olmutz and next morning were to come straight to the review, reaching the field at Olmutz by ten o'clock.
That day Nicholas Rostov received a letter from Boris, telling him that the Ismaylov regiment was quartered for the night ten miles from Olmutz and that he wanted to see him as he had a letter and money for him. Rostov was particularly in need of money now that the troops, after their active service, were stationed near Olmutz and the camp swarmed with well-provisioned sutlers and Austrian Jews offering all sorts of tempting wares. The Pavlograds held feast after feast, celebrating awards they had received for the campaign, and made expeditions to Olmutz to visit a certain Caroline the Hungarian, who had recently opened a restaurant there with girls as waitresses. Rostov, who had just celebrated his promotion to a cornetcy and bought Denisov's horse, Bedouin, was in debt all round, to his comrades and the sutlers. On receiving Boris' letter he rode with a fellow officer to Olmutz, dined there, drank a bottle of wine, and then set off alone to the Guards' camp to find his old playmate. Rostov had not yet had time to get his uniform. He had on a shabby cadet jacket, decorated with a soldier's cross, equally shabby cadet's riding breeches lined with worn leather, and an officer's saber with a sword knot. The Don horse he was riding was one he had bought from a Cossack during the campaign, and he wore a crumpled hussar cap stuck jauntily back on one side of his head. As he rode up to the camp he thought how he would impress Boris and all his comrades of the Guards by his appearance--that of a fighting hussar who had been under fire.
The Guards had made their whole march as if on a pleasure trip, parading their cleanliness and discipline. They had come by easy stages, their knapsacks conveyed on carts, and the Austrian authorities had provided excellent dinners for the officers at every halting place. The regiments had entered and left the town with their bands playing, and by the Grand Duke's orders the men had marched all the way in step (a practice on which the Guards prided themselves), the officers on foot and at their proper posts. Boris had been quartered, and had marched all the way, with Berg who was already in command of a company. Berg, who had obtained his captaincy during the campaign, had gained the confidence of his superiors by his promptitude and accuracy and had arranged his money matters very satisfactorily. Boris, during the campaign, had made the acquaintance of many persons who might prove useful to him, and by a letter of recommendation he had brought from Pierre had become acquainted with Prince Andrew Bolkonski, through whom he hoped to obtain a post on the commander in chief's staff. Berg and Boris, having rested after yesterday's march, were sitting, clean and neatly dressed, at a round table in the clean quarters allotted to them, playing chess. Berg held a smoking pipe between his knees. Boris, in the accurate way characteristic of him, was building a little pyramid of chessmen with his delicate white fingers while awaiting Berg's move, and watched his opponent's face, evidently thinking about the game as he always thought only of whatever he was engaged on.
"Well, how are you going to get out of that?" he remarked.
"We'll try to," replied Berg, touching a pawn and then removing his hand.
At that moment the door opened.
"Here he is at last!" shouted Rostov. "And Berg too! Oh, you petisenfans, allay cushay dormir!" he exclaimed, imitating his Russian nurse's French, at which he and Boris used to laugh long ago.
"Dear me, how you have changed!"
Boris rose to meet Rostov, but in doing so did not omit to steady and replace some chessmen that were falling. He was about to embrace his friend, but Nicholas avoided him. With that peculiar feeling of youth, that dread of beaten tracks, and wish to express itself in a manner different from that of its elders which is often insincere, Nicholas wished to do something special on meeting his friend. He wanted to pinch him, push him, do anything but kiss him--a thing everybody did. But notwithstanding this, Boris embraced him in a quiet, friendly way and kissed him three times.
They had not met for nearly half a year and, being at the age when young men take their first steps on life's road, each saw immense changes in the other, quite a new reflection of the society in which they had taken those first steps. Both had changed greatly since they last met and both were in a hurry to show the changes that had taken place in them.
"Oh, you damned dandies! Clean and fresh as if you'd been to a fete, not like us sinners of the line," cried Rostov, with martial swagger and with baritone notes in his voice, new to Boris, pointing to his own mud-bespattered breeches. The German landlady, hearing Rostov's loud voice, popped her head in at the door.
"Eh, is she pretty?" he asked with a wink.
"Why do you shout so? You'll frighten them!" said Boris. "I did not expect you today," he added. "I only sent you the note yesterday by Bolkonski--an adjutant of Kutuzov's, who's a friend of mine. I did not think he would get it to you so quickly.... Well, how are you? Been under fire already?" asked Boris.
Without answering, Rostov shook the soldier's Cross of St. George fastened to the cording of his uniform and, indicating a bandaged arm, glanced at Berg with a smile.
"As you see," he said.
"Indeed? Yes, yes!" said Boris, with a smile. "And we too have had a splendid march. You know, of course, that His Imperial Highness rode with our regiment all the time, so that we had every comfort and every advantage. What receptions we had in Poland! What dinners and balls! I can't tell you. And the Tsarevich was very gracious to all our officers."
And the two friends told each other of their doings, the one of his hussar revels and life in the fighting line, the other of the pleasures and advantages of service under members of the Imperial family.
"Oh, you Guards!" said Rostov. "I say, send for some wine."
Boris made a grimace.
"If you really want it," said he.
He went to his bed, drew a purse from under the clean pillow, and sent for wine.
"Yes, and I have some money and a letter to give you," he added.
Rostov took the letter and, throwing the money on the sofa, put both arms on the table and began to read. After reading a few lines, he glanced angrily at Berg, then, meeting his eyes, hid his face behind the letter.
"Well, they've sent you a tidy sum," said Berg, eying the heavy purse that sank into the sofa. "As for us, Count, we get along on our pay. I can tell you for myself..."
"I say, Berg, my dear fellow," said Rostov, "when you get a letter from home and meet one of your own people whom you want to talk everything over with, and I happen to be there, I'll go at once, to be out of your way! Do go somewhere, anywhere... to the devil!" he exclaimed, and immediately seizing him by the shoulder and looking amiably into his face, evidently wishing to soften the rudeness of his words, he added, "Don't be hurt, my dear fellow; you know I speak from my heart as to an old acquaintance."
"Oh, don't mention it, Count! I quite understand," said Berg, getting up and speaking in a muffled and guttural voice.
"Go across to our hosts: they invited you," added Boris.
Berg put on the cleanest of coats, without a spot or speck of dust, stood before a looking glass and brushed the hair on his temples upwards, in the way affected by the Emperor Alexander, and, having assured himself from the way Rostov looked at it that his coat had been noticed, left the room with a pleasant smile.
"Oh dear, what a beast I am!" muttered Rostov, as he read the letter.
"Oh, what a pig I am, not to have written and to have given them such a fright! Oh, what a pig I am!" he repeated, flushing suddenly. "Well, have you sent Gabriel for some wine? All right let's have some!"
In the letter from his parents was enclosed a letter of recommendation to Bagration which the old countess at Anna Mikhaylovna's advice had obtained through an acquaintance and sent to her son, asking him to take it to its destination and make use of it.
"What nonsense! Much I need it!" said Rostov, throwing the letter under the table.
"Why have you thrown that away?" asked Boris.
"It is some letter of recommendation... what the devil do I want it for!"
"Why 'What the devil'?" said Boris, picking it up and reading the address. "This letter would be of great use to you."
"I want nothing, and I won't be anyone's adjutant."
"Why not?" inquired Boris.
"It's a lackey's job!"
"You are still the same dreamer, I see," remarked Boris, shaking his head.
"And you're still the same diplomatist! But that's not the point... Come, how are you?" asked Rostov.
"Well, as you see. So far everything's all right, but I confess I should much like to be an adjutant and not remain at the front."
"Because when once a man starts on military service, he should try to make as successful a career of it as possible."
"Oh, that's it!" said Rostov, evidently thinking of something else.
He looked intently and inquiringly into his friend's eyes, evidently trying in vain to find the answer to some question.
Old Gabriel brought in the wine.
"Shouldn't we now send for Berg?" asked Boris. "He would drink with you. I can't."
"Well, send for him... and how do you get on with that German?" asked Rostov, with a contemptuous smile.
"He is a very, very nice, honest, and pleasant fellow," answered Boris.
Again Rostov looked intently into Boris' eyes and sighed. Berg returned, and over the bottle of wine conversation between the three officers became animated. The Guardsmen told Rostov of their march and how they had been made much of in Russia, Poland, and abroad. They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the Grand Duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility. Berg, as usual, kept silent when the subject did not relate to himself, but in connection with the stories of the Grand Duke's quick temper he related with gusto how in Galicia he had managed to deal with the Grand Duke when the latter made a tour of the regiments and was annoyed at the irregularity of a movement. With a pleasant smile Berg related how the Grand Duke had ridden up to him in a violent passion, shouting: "Arnauts!" ("Arnauts" was the Tsarevich's favorite expression when he was in a rage) and called for the company commander.
"Would you believe it, Count, I was not at all alarmed, because I knew I was right. Without boasting, you know, I may say that I know the Army Orders by heart and know the Regulations as well as I do the Lord's Prayer. So, Count, there never is any negligence in my company, and so my conscience was at ease. I came forward...." (Berg stood up and showed how he presented himself, with his hand to his cap, and really it would have been difficult for a face to express greater respect and self-complacency than his did.) "Well, he stormed at me, as the saying is, stormed and stormed and stormed! It was not a matter of life but rather of death, as the saying is. 'Albanians!' and 'devils!' and 'To Siberia!'" said Berg with a sagacious smile. "I knew I was in the right so I kept silent; was not that best, Count?... 'Hey, are you dumb?' he shouted. Still I remained silent. And what do you think, Count? The next day it was not even mentioned in the Orders of the Day. That's what keeping one's head means. That's the way, Count," said Berg, lighting his pipe and emitting rings of smoke.
"Yes, that was fine," said Rostov, smiling.
But Boris noticed that he was preparing to make fun of Berg, and skillfully changed the subject. He asked him to tell them how and where he got his wound. This pleased Rostov and he began talking about it, and as he went on became more and more animated. He told them of his Schon Grabern affair, just as those who have taken part in a battle generally do describe it, that is, as they would like it to have been, as they have heard it described by others, and as sounds well, but not at all as it really was. Rostov was a truthful young man and would on no account have told a deliberate lie. He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. If he had told the truth to his hearers--who like himself had often heard stories of attacks and had formed a definite idea of what an attack was and were expecting to hear just such a story--they would either not have believed him or, still worse, would have thought that Rostov was himself to blame since what generally happens to the narrators of cavalry attacks had not happened to him. He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it. His hearers expected a story of how beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And so he told them all that.
In the middle of his story, just as he was saying: "You cannot imagine what a strange frenzy one experiences during an attack," Prince Andrew, whom Boris was expecting, entered the room. Prince Andrew, who liked to help young men, was flattered by being asked for his assistance and being well disposed toward Boris, who had managed to please him the day before, he wished to do what the young man wanted. Having been sent with papers from Kutuzov to the Tsarevich, he looked in on Boris, hoping to find him alone. When he came in and saw an hussar of the line recounting his military exploits (Prince Andrew could not endure that sort of man), he gave Boris a pleasant smile, frowned as with half-closed eyes he looked at Rostov, bowed slightly and wearily, and sat down languidly on the sofa: he felt it unpleasant to have dropped in on bad company. Rostov flushed up on noticing this, but he did not care, this was a mere stranger. Glancing, however, at Boris, he saw that he too seemed ashamed of the hussar of the line.
In spite of Prince Andrew's disagreeable, ironical tone, in spite of the contempt with which Rostov, from his fighting army point of view, regarded all these little adjutants on the staff of whom the newcomer was evidently one, Rostov felt confused, blushed, and became silent. Boris inquired what news there might be on the staff, and what, without indiscretion, one might ask about our plans.
"We shall probably advance," replied Bolkonski, evidently reluctant to say more in the presence of a stranger.
Berg took the opportunity to ask, with great politeness, whether, as was rumored, the allowance of forage money to captains of companies would be doubled. To this Prince Andrew answered with a smile that he could give no opinion on such an important government order, and Berg laughed gaily.
"As to your business," Prince Andrew continued, addressing Boris, "we will talk of it later" (and he looked round at Rostov). "Come to me after the review and we will do what is possible."
And, having glanced round the room, Prince Andrew turned to Rostov, whose state of unconquerable childish embarrassment now changing to anger he did not condescend to notice, and said: "I think you were talking of the Schon Grabern affair? Were you there?"
"I was there," said Rostov angrily, as if intending to insult the aide-de-camp.
Bolkonski noticed the hussar's state of mind, and it amused him. With a slightly contemptuous smile, he said: "Yes, there are many stories now told about that affair!"
"Yes, stories!" repeated Rostov loudly, looking with eyes suddenly grown furious, now at Boris, now at Bolkonski. "Yes, many stories! But our stories are the stories of men who have been under the enemy's fire! Our stories have some weight, not like the stories of those fellows on the staff who get rewards without doing anything!"
"Of whom you imagine me to be one?" said Prince Andrew, with a quiet and particularly amiable smile.
A strange feeling of exasperation and yet of respect for this man's self-possession mingled at that moment in Rostov's soul.
"I am not talking about you," he said, "I don't know you and, frankly, I don't want to. I am speaking of the staff in general."
"And I will tell you this," Prince Andrew interrupted in a tone of quiet authority, "you wish to insult me, and I am ready to agree with you that it would be very easy to do so if you haven't sufficient self-respect, but admit that the time and place are very badly chosen. In a day or two we shall all have to take part in a greater and more serious duel, and besides, Drubetskoy, who says he is an old friend of yours, is not at all to blame that my face has the misfortune to displease you. However," he added rising, "you know my name and where to find me, but don't forget that I do not regard either myself or you as having been at all insulted, and as a man older than you, my advice is to let the matter drop. Well then, on Friday after the review I shall expect you, Drubetskoy. Au revoir!" exclaimed Prince Andrew, and with a bow to them both he went out.
Only when Prince Andrew was gone did Rostov think of what he ought to have said. And he was still more angry at having omitted to say it. He ordered his horse at once and, coldly taking leave of Boris, rode home. Should he go to headquarters next day and challenge that affected adjutant, or really let the matter drop, was the question that worried him all the way. He thought angrily of the pleasure he would have at seeing the fright of that small and frail but proud man when covered by his pistol, and then he felt with surprise that of all the men he knew there was none he would so much like to have for a friend as that very adjutant whom he so hated.
The day after Rostov had been to see Boris, a review was held of the Austrian and Russian troops, both those freshly arrived from Russia and those who had been campaigning under Kutuzov. The two Emperors, the Russian with his heir the Tsarevich, and the Austrian with the Archduke, inspected the allied army of eighty thousand men.
From early morning the smart clean troops were on the move, forming up on the field before the fortress. Now thousands of feet and bayonets moved and halted at the officers' command, turned with banners flying, formed up at intervals, and wheeled round other similar masses of infantry in different uniforms; now was heard the rhythmic beat of hoofs and the jingling of showy cavalry in blue, red, and green braided uniforms, with smartly dressed bandsmen in front mounted on black, roan, or gray horses; then again, spreading out with the brazen clatter of the polished shining cannon that quivered on the gun carriages and with the smell of linstocks, came the artillery which crawled between the infantry and cavalry and took up its appointed position. Not only the generals in full parade uniforms, with their thin or thick waists drawn in to the utmost, their red necks squeezed into their stiff collars, and wearing scarves and all their decorations, not only the elegant, pomaded officers, but every soldier with his freshly washed and shaven face and his weapons clean and polished to the utmost, and every horse groomed till its coat shone like satin and every hair of its wetted mane lay smooth- felt that no small matter was happening, but an important and solemn affair. Every general and every soldier was conscious of his own insignificance, aware of being but a drop in that ocean of men, and yet at the same time was conscious of his strength as a part of that enormous whole.
From early morning strenuous activities and efforts had begun and by ten o'clock all had been brought into due order. The ranks were drown up on the vast field. The whole army was extended in three lines: the cavalry in front, behind it the artillery, and behind that again the infantry.
A space like a street was left between each two lines of troops. The three parts of that army were sharply distinguished: Kutuzov's fighting army (with the Pavlograds on the right flank of the front); those recently arrived from Russia, both Guards and regiments of the line; and the Austrian troops. But they all stood in the same lines, under one command, and in a like order.
Like wind over leaves ran an excited whisper: "They're coming! They're coming!" Alarmed voices were heard, and a stir of final preparation swept over all the troops.
From the direction of Olmutz in front of them, a group was seen approaching. And at that moment, though the day was still, a light gust of wind blowing over the army slightly stirred the streamers on the lances and the unfolded standards fluttered against their staffs. It looked as if by that slight motion the army itself was expressing its joy at the approach of the Emperors. One voice was heard shouting: "Eyes front!" Then, like the crowing of cocks at sunrise, this was repeated by others from various sides and all became silent.
In the deathlike stillness only the tramp of horses was heard. This was the Emperors' suites. The Emperors rode up to the flank, and the trumpets of the first cavalry regiment played the general march. It seemed as though not the trumpeters were playing, but as if the army itself, rejoicing at the Emperors' approach, had naturally burst into music. Amid these sounds, only the youthful kindly voice of the Emperor Alexander was clearly heard. He gave the words of greeting, and the first regiment roared "Hurrah!" so deafeningly, continuously, and joyfully that the men themselves were awed by their multitude and the immensity of the power they constituted.
Rostov, standing in the front lines of Kutuzov's army which the Tsar approached first, experienced the same feeling as every other man in that army: a feeling of self-forgetfulness, a proud consciousness of might, and a passionate attraction to him who was the cause of this triumph.
He felt that at a single word from that man all this vast mass (and he himself an insignificant atom in it) would go through fire and water, commit crime, die, or perform deeds of highest heroism, and so he could not but tremble and his heart stand still at the imminence of that word.
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" thundered from all sides, one regiment after another greeting the Tsar with the strains of the march, and then "Hurrah!"... Then the general march, and again "Hurrah! Hurrah!" growing ever stronger and fuller and merging into a deafening roar.
Till the Tsar reached it, each regiment in its silence and immobility seemed like a lifeless body, but as soon as he came up it became alive, its thunder joining the roar of the whole line along which he had already passed. Through the terrible and deafening roar of those voices, amid the square masses of troops standing motionless as if turned to stone, hundreds of riders composing the suites moved carelessly but symmetrically and above all freely, and in front of them two men--the Emperors. Upon them the undivided, tensely passionate attention of that whole mass of men was concentrated.
The handsome young Emperor Alexander, in the uniform of the Horse Guards, wearing a cocked hat with its peaks front and back, with his pleasant face and resonant though not loud voice, attracted everyone's attention.
Rostov was not far from the trumpeters, and with his keen sight had recognized the Tsar and watched his approach. When he was within twenty paces, and Nicholas could clearly distinguish every detail of his handsome, happy young face, he experienced a feeling tenderness and ecstasy such as he had never before known. Every trait and every movement of the Tsar's seemed to him enchanting.
Stopping in front of the Pavlograds, the Tsar said something in French to the Austrian Emperor and smiled.
Seeing that smile, Rostov involuntarily smiled himself and felt a still stronger flow of love for his sovereign. He longed to show that love in some way and knowing that this was impossible was ready to cry. The Tsar called the colonel of the regiment and said a few words to him.
"Oh God, what would happen to me if the Emperor spoke to me?" thought Rostov. "I should die of happiness!"
The Tsar addressed the officers also: "I thank you all, gentlemen, I thank you with my whole heart." To Rostov every word sounded like a voice from heaven. How gladly would he have died at once for his Tsar!
"You have earned the St. George's standards and will be worthy of them."
"Oh, to die, to die for him," thought Rostov.
The Tsar said something more which Rostov did not hear, and the soldiers, straining their lungs, shouted "Hurrah!"
Rostov too, bending over his saddle, shouted "Hurrah!" with all his might, feeling that he would like to injure himself by that shout, if only to express his rapture fully.
The Tsar stopped a few minutes in front of the hussars as if undecided.
"How can the Emperor be undecided?" thought Rostov, but then even this indecision appeared to him majestic and enchanting, like everything else the Tsar did.
That hesitation lasted only an instant. The Tsar's foot, in the narrow pointed boot then fashionable, touched the groin of the bobtailed bay mare he rode, his hand in a white glove gathered up the reins, and he moved off accompanied by an irregularly swaying sea of aides-de-camp. Farther and farther he rode away, stopping at other regiments, till at last only his white plumes were visible to Rostov from amid the suites that surrounded the Emperors.
Among the gentlemen of the suite, Rostov noticed Bolkonski, sitting his horse indolently and carelessly. Rostov recalled their quarrel of yesterday and the question presented itself whether he ought or ought not to challenge Bolkonski. "Of course not!" he now thought. "Is it worth thinking or speaking of it at such a moment? At a time of such love, such rapture, and such self-sacrifice, what do any of our quarrels and affronts matter? I love and forgive everybody now."
When the Emperor had passed nearly all the regiments, the troops began a ceremonial march past him, and Rostov on Bedouin, recently purchased from Denisov, rode past too, at the rear of his squadron- that is, alone and in full view of the Emperor.
Before he reached him, Rostov, who was a splendid horseman, spurred Bedouin twice and successfully put him to the showy trot in which the animal went when excited. Bending his foaming muzzle to his chest, his tail extended, Bedouin, as if also conscious of the Emperor's eye upon him, passed splendidly, lifting his feet with a high and graceful action, as if flying through the air without touching the ground.
Rostov himself, his legs well back and his stomach drawn in and feeling himself one with his horse, rode past the Emperor with a frowning but blissful face "like a vewy devil," as Denisov expressed it.
"Fine fellows, the Pavlograds!" remarked the Emperor.
"My God, how happy I should be if he ordered me to leap into the fire this instant!" thought Rostov.
When the review was over, the newly arrived officers, and also Kutuzov's, collected in groups and began to talk about the awards, about the Austrians and their uniforms, about their lines, about Bonaparte, and how badly the latter would fare now, especially if the Essen corps arrived and Prussia took our side.
But the talk in every group was chiefly about the Emperor Alexander. His every word and movement was described with ecstasy.
They all had but one wish: to advance as soon as possible against the enemy under the Emperor's command. Commanded by the Emperor himself they could not fail to vanquish anyone, be it whom it might: so thought Rostov and most of the officers after the review.
All were then more confident of victory than the winning of two battles would have made them.
The day after the review, Boris, in his best uniform and with his comrade Berg's best wishes for success, rode to Olmutz to see Bolkonski, wishing to profit by his friendliness and obtain for himself the best post he could--preferably that of adjutant to some important personage, a position in the army which seemed to him most attractive. "It is all very well for Rostov, whose father sends him ten thousand rubles at a time, to talk about not wishing to cringe to anybody and not be anyone's lackey, but I who have nothing but my brains have to make a career and must not miss opportunities, but must avail myself of them!" he reflected.
He did not find Prince Andrew in Olmutz that day, but the appearance of the town where the headquarters and the diplomatic corps were stationed and the two Emperors were living with their suites, households, and courts only strengthened his desire to belong to that higher world.
He knew no one, and despite his smart Guardsman's uniform, all these exalted personages passing in the streets in their elegant carriages with their plumes, ribbons, and medals, both courtiers and military men, seemed so immeasurably above him, an insignificant officer of the Guards, that they not only did not wish to, but simply could not, be aware of his existence. At the quarters of the commander in chief, Kutuzov, where he inquired for Bolkonski, all the adjutants and even the orderlies looked at him as if they wished to impress on him that a great many officers like him were always coming there and that everybody was heartily sick of them. In spite of this, or rather because of it, next day, November 15, after dinner he again went to Olmutz and, entering the house occupied by Kutuzov, asked for Bolkonski. Prince Andrew was in and Boris was shown into a large hall probably formerly used for dancing, but in which five beds now stood, and furniture of various kinds: a table, chairs, and a clavichord. One adjutant, nearest the door, was sitting at the table in a Persian dressing gown, writing. Another, the red, stout Nesvitski, lay on a bed with his arms under his head, laughing with an officer who had sat down beside him. A third was playing a Viennese waltz on the clavichord, while a fourth, lying on the clavichord, sang the tune. Bolkonski was not there. None of these gentlemen changed his position on seeing Boris. The one who was writing and whom Boris addressed turned round crossly and told him Bolkonski was on duty and that he should go through the door on the left into the reception room if he wished to see him. Boris thanked him and went to the reception room, where he found some ten officers and generals.
When he entered, Prince Andrew, his eyes drooping contemptuously (with that peculiar expression of polite weariness which plainly says, "If it were not my duty I would not talk to you for a moment"), was listening to an old Russian general with decorations, who stood very erect, almost on tiptoe, with a soldier's obsequious expression on his purple face, reporting something.
"Very well, then, be so good as to wait," said Prince Andrew to the general, in Russian, speaking with the French intonation he affected when he wished to speak contemptuously, and noticing Boris, Prince Andrew, paying no more heed to the general who ran after him imploring him to hear something more, nodded and turned to him with a cheerful smile.
At that moment Boris clearly realized what he had before surmised, that in the army, besides the subordination and discipline prescribed in the military code, which he and the others knew in the regiment, there was another, more important, subordination, which made this tight-laced, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Captain Prince Andrew, for his own pleasure, chose to chat with Lieutenant Drubetskoy. More than ever was Boris resolved to serve in future not according to the written code, but under this unwritten law. He felt now that merely by having been recommended to Prince Andrew he had already risen above the general who at the front had the power to annihilate him, a lieutenant of the Guards. Prince Andrew came up to him and took his hand.
"I am very sorry you did not find me in yesterday. I was fussing about with Germans all day. We went with Weyrother to survey the dispositions. When Germans start being accurate, there's no end to it!"
Boris smiled, as if he understood what Prince Andrew was alluding to as something generally known. But it the first time he had heard Weyrother's name, or even the term "dispositions."
"Well, my dear fellow, so you still want to be an adjutant? I have been thinking about you."
"Yes, I was thinking"--for some reason Boris could not help blushing--"of asking the commander in chief. He has had a letter from Prince Kuragin about me. I only wanted to ask because I fear the Guards won't be in action," he added as if in apology.
"All right, all right. We'll talk it over," replied Prince Andrew. "Only let me report this gentleman's business, and I shall be at your disposal."
While Prince Andrew went to report about the purple-faced general, that gentleman--evidently not sharing Boris' conception of the advantages of the unwritten code of subordination--looked so fixedly at the presumptuous lieutenant who had prevented his finishing what he had to say to the adjutant that Boris felt uncomfortable. He turned away and waited impatiently for Prince Andrew's return from the commander in chief's room.
"You see, my dear fellow, I have been thinking about you," said Prince Andrew when they had gone into the large room where the clavichord was. "It's no use your going to the commander in chief. He would say a lot of pleasant things, ask you to dinner" ("That would not be bad as regards the unwritten code," thought Boris), "but nothing more would come of it. There will soon be a battalion of us aides-de-camp and adjutants! But this is what we'll do: I have a good friend, an adjutant general and an excellent fellow, Prince Dolgorukov; and though you may not know it, the fact is that now Kutuzov with his staff and all of us count for nothing. Everything is now centered round the Emperor. So we will go to Dolgorukov; I have to go there anyhow and I have already spoken to him about you. We shall see whether he cannot attach you to himself or find a place for you somewhere nearer the sun."
Prince Andrew always became specially keen when he had to guide a young man and help him to worldly success. Under cover of obtaining help of this kind for another, which from pride he would never accept for himself, he kept in touch with the circle which confers success and which attracted him. He very readily took up Boris' cause and went with him to Dolgorukov.
It was late in the evening when they entered the palace at Olmutz occupied by the Emperors and their retinues.
That same day a council of war had been held in which all the members of the Hofkriegsrath and both Emperors took part. At that council, contrary to the views of the old generals Kutuzov and Prince Schwartzenberg, it had been decided to advance immediately and give battle to Bonaparte. The council of war was just over when Prince Andrew accompanied by Boris arrived at the palace to find Dolgorukov. Everyone at headquarters was still under the spell of the day's council, at which the party of the young had triumphed. The voices of those who counseled delay and advised waiting for something else before advancing had been so completely silenced and their arguments confuted by such conclusive evidence of the advantages of attacking that what had been discussed at the council--the coming battle and the victory that would certainly result from it--no longer seemed to be in the future but in the past. All the advantages were on our side. Our enormous forces, undoubtedly superior to Napoleon's, were concentrated in one place, the troops inspired by the Emperors' presence were eager for action. The strategic position where the operations would take place was familiar in all its details to the Austrian General Weyrother: a lucky accident had ordained that the Austrian army should maneuver the previous year on the very fields where the French had now to be fought; the adjacent locality was known and shown in every detail on the maps, and Bonaparte, evidently weakened, was undertaking nothing.
Dolgorukov, one of the warmest advocates of an attack, had just returned from the council, tired and exhausted but eager and proud of the victory that had been gained. Prince Andrew introduced his protege, but Prince Dolgorukov politely and firmly pressing his hand said nothing to Boris and, evidently unable to suppress the thoughts which were uppermost in his mind at that moment, addressed Prince Andrew in French.
"Ah, my dear fellow, what a battle we have gained! God grant that the one that will result from it will be as victorious! However, dear fellow," he said abruptly and eagerly, "I must confess to having been unjust to the Austrians and especially to Weyrother. What exactitude, what minuteness, what knowledge of the locality, what foresight for every eventuality, every possibility even to the smallest detail! No, my dear fellow, no conditions better than our present ones could have been devised. This combination of Austrian precision with Russian valor--what more could be wished for?"
"So the attack is definitely resolved on?" asked Bolkonski.
"And do you know, my dear fellow, it seems to me that Bonaparte has decidedly lost bearings, you know that a letter was received from him today for the Emperor." Dolgorukov smiled significantly.
"Is that so? And what did he say?" inquired Bolkonski.
"What can he say? Tra-di-ri-di-ra and so on... merely to gain time. I tell you he is in our hands, that's certain! But what was most amusing," he continued, with a sudden, good-natured laugh, "was that we could not think how to address the reply! If not as 'Consul' and of course not as 'Emperor,' it seemed to me it should be to 'General Bonaparte.'"
"But between not recognizing him as Emperor and calling him General Bonaparte, there is a difference," remarked Bolkonski.
"That's just it," interrupted Dolgorukov quickly, laughing. "You know Bilibin--he's a very clever fellow. He suggested addressing him as 'Usurper and Enemy of Mankind.'"
Dolgorukov laughed merrily.
"Only that?" said Bolkonski.
"All the same, it was Bilibin who found a suitable form for the address. He is a wise and clever fellow."
"What was it?"
"To the Head of the French Government... Au chef du gouvernement francais," said Dolgorukov, with grave satisfaction. "Good, wasn't it?"
"Yes, but he will dislike it extremely," said Bolkonski.
"Oh yes, very much! My brother knows him, he's dined with him--the present Emperor--more than once in Paris, and tells me he never met a more cunning or subtle diplomatist--you know, a combination of French adroitness and Italian play-acting! Do you know the tale about him and Count Markov? Count Markov was the only man who knew how to handle him. You know the story of the handkerchief? It is delightful!"
And the talkative Dolgorukov, turning now to Boris, now to Prince Andrew, told how Bonaparte wishing to test Markov, our ambassador, purposely dropped a handkerchief in front of him and stood looking at Markov, probably expecting Markov to pick it up for him, and how Markov immediately dropped his own beside it and picked it up without touching Bonaparte's.
"Delightful!" said Bolkonski. "But I have come to you, Prince, as a petitioner on behalf of this young man. You see..." but before Prince Andrew could finish, an aide-de-camp came in to summon Dolgorukov to the Emperor.
"Oh, what a nuisance," said Dolgorukov, getting up hurriedly and pressing the hands of Prince Andrew and Boris. "You know I should be very glad to do all in my power both for you and for this dear young man." Again he pressed the hand of the latter with an expression of good-natured, sincere, and animated levity. "But you see... another time!"
Boris was excited by the thought of being so close to the higher powers as he felt himself to be at that moment. He was conscious that here he was in contact with the springs that set in motion the enormous movements of the mass of which in his regiment he felt himself a tiny, obedient, and insignificant atom. They followed Prince Dolgorukov out into the corridor and met--coming out of the door of the Emperor's room by which Dolgorukov had entered--a short man in civilian clothes with a clever face and sharply projecting jaw which, without spoiling his face, gave him a peculiar vivacity and shiftiness of expression. This short man nodded to Dolgorukov as to an intimate friend and stared at Prince Andrew with cool intensity, walking straight toward him and evidently expecting him to bow or to step out of his way. Prince Andrew did neither: a look of animosity appeared on his face and the other turned away and went down the side of the corridor.
"Who was that?" asked Boris.
"He is one of the most remarkable, but to me most unpleasant of men- the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Adam Czartoryski.... It is such men as he who decide the fate of nations," added Bolkonski with a sigh he could not suppress, as they passed out of the palace.
Next day, the army began its campaign, and up to the very battle of Austerlitz, Boris was unable to see either Prince Andrew or Dolgorukov again and remained for a while with the Ismaylov regiment.
At dawn on the sixteenth of November, Denisov's squadron, in which Nicholas Rostov served and which was in Prince Bagration's detachment, moved from the place where it had spent the night, advancing into action as arranged, and after going behind other columns for about two thirds of a mile was stopped on the highroad. Rostov saw the Cossacks and then the first and second squadrons of hussars and infantry battalions and artillery pass by and go forward and then Generals Bagration and Dolgorukov ride past with their adjutants. All the fear before action which he had experienced as previously, all the inner struggle to conquer that fear, all his dreams of distinguishing himself as a true hussar in this battle, had been wasted. Their squadron remained in reserve and Nicholas Rostov spent that day in a dull and wretched mood. At nine in the morning, he heard firing in front and shouts of hurrah, and saw wounded being brought back (there were not many of them), and at last he saw how a whole detachment of French cavalry was brought in, convoyed by a sontnya of Cossacks. Evidently the affair was over and, though not big, had been a successful engagement. The men and officers returning spoke of a brilliant victory, of the occupation of the town of Wischau and the capture of a whole French squadron. The day was bright and sunny after a sharp night frost, and the cheerful glitter of that autumn day was in keeping with the news of victory which was conveyed, not only by the tales of those who had taken part in it, but also by the joyful expression on the faces of soldiers, officers, generals, and adjutants, as they passed Rostov going or coming. And Nicholas, who had vainly suffered all the dread that precedes a battle and had spent that happy day in inactivity, was all the more depressed.
"Come here, Wostov. Let's dwink to dwown our gwief!" shouted Denisov, who had settled down by the roadside with a flask and some food.
The officers gathered round Denisov's canteen, eating and talking.
"There! They are bringing another!" cried one of the officers, indicating a captive French dragoon who was being brought in on foot by two Cossacks.
One of them was leading by the bridle a fine large French horse he had taken from the prisoner.
"Sell us that horse!" Denisov called out to the Cossacks.
"If you like, your honor!"
The officers got up and stood round the Cossacks and their prisoner. The French dragoon was a young Alsatian who spoke French with a German accent. He was breathless with agitation, his face was red, and when he heard some French spoken he at once began speaking to the officers, addressing first one, then another. He said he would not have been taken, it was not his fault but the corporal's who had sent him to seize some horsecloths, though he had told him the Russians were there. And at every word he added: "But don't hurt my little horse!" and stroked the animal. It was plain that he did not quite grasp where he was. Now he excused himself for having been taken prisoner and now, imagining himself before his own officers, insisted on his soldierly discipline and zeal in the service. He brought with him into our rearguard all the freshness of atmosphere of the French army, which was so alien to us.
The Cossacks sold the horse for two gold pieces, and Rostov, being the richest of the officers now that he had received his money, bought it.
"But don't hurt my little horse!" said the Alsatian good-naturedly to Rostov when the animal was handed over to the hussar.
Rostov smilingly reassured the dragoon and gave him money.
"Alley! Alley!" said the Cossack, touching the prisoner's arm to make him go on.
"The Emperor! The Emperor!" was suddenly heard among the hussars.
All began to run and bustle, and Rostov saw coming up the road behind him several riders with white plumes in their hats. In a moment everyone was in his place, waiting.
Rostov did not know or remember how he ran to his place and mounted. Instantly his regret at not having been in action and his dejected mood amid people of whom he was weary had gone, instantly every thought of himself had vanished. He was filled with happiness at his nearness to the Emperor. He felt that this nearness by itself made up to him for the day he had lost. He was happy as a lover when the longed-for moment of meeting arrives. Not daring to look round and without looking round, he was ecstatically conscious of his approach. He felt it not only from the sound of the hoofs of the approaching cavalcade, but because as he drew near everything grew brighter, more joyful, more significant, and more festive around him. Nearer and nearer to Rostov came that sun shedding beams of mild and majestic light around, and already he felt himself enveloped in those beams, he heard his voice, that kindly, calm, and majestic voice that was yet so simple! And as if in accord with Rostov's feeling, there was a deathly stillness amid which was heard the Emperor's voice.
"The Pavlograd hussars?" he inquired.
"The reserves, sire!" replied a voice, a very human one compared to that which had said: "The Pavlograd hussars?"
The Emperor drew level with Rostov and halted. Alexander's face was even more beautiful than it had been three days before at the review. It shone with such gaiety and youth, such innocent youth, that it suggested the liveliness of a fourteen-year-old boy, and yet it was the face of the majestic Emperor. Casually, while surveying the squadron, the Emperor's eyes met Rostov's and rested on them for not more than two seconds. Whether or no the Emperor understood what was going on in Rostov's soul (it seemed to Rostov that he understood everything), at any rate his light-blue eyes gazed for about two seconds into Rostov's face. A gentle, mild light poured from them. Then all at once he raised his eyebrows, abruptly touched his horse with his left foot, and galloped on.
The younger Emperor could not restrain his wish to be present at the battle and, in spite of the remonstrances of his courtiers, at twelve o'clock left the third column with which he had been and galloped toward the vanguard. Before he came up with the hussars, several adjutants met him with news of the successful result of the action.
This battle, which consisted in the capture of a French squadron, was represented as a brilliant victory over the French, and so the Emperor and the whole army, especially while the smoke hung over the battlefield, believed that the French had been defeated and were retreating against their will. A few minutes after the Emperor had passed, the Pavlograd division was ordered to advance. In Wischau itself, a petty German town, Rostov saw the Emperor again. In the market place, where there had been some rather heavy firing before the Emperor's arrival, lay several killed and wounded soldiers whom there had not been time to move. The Emperor, surrounded by his suite of officers and courtiers, was riding a bobtailed chestnut mare, a different one from that which he had ridden at the review, and bending to one side he gracefully held a gold lorgnette to his eyes and looked at a soldier who lay prone, with blood on his uncovered head. The wounded soldier was so dirty, coarse, and revolting that his proximity to the Emperor shocked Rostov. Rostov saw how the Emperor's rather round shoulders shuddered as if a cold shiver had run down them, how his left foot began convulsively tapping the horse's side with the spur, and how the well-trained horse looked round unconcerned and did not stir. An adjutant, dismounting, lifted the soldier under the arms to place him on a stretcher that had been brought. The soldier groaned.
"Gently, gently! Can't you do it more gently?" said the Emperor apparently suffering more than the dying soldier, and he rode away.
Rostov saw tears filling the Emperor's eyes and heard him, as he was riding away, say to Czartoryski: "What a terrible thing war is: what a terrible thing! Quelle terrible chose que la guerre!"
The troops of the vanguard were stationed before Wischau, within sight of the enemy's lines, which all day long had yielded ground to us at the least firing. The Emperor's gratitude was announced to the vanguard, rewards were promised, and the men received a double ration of vodka. The campfires crackled and the soldiers' songs resounded even more merrily than on the previous night. Denisov celebrated his promotion to the rank of major, and Rostov, who had already drunk enough, at the end of the feast proposed the Emperor's health. "Not 'our Sovereign, the Emperor,' as they say at official dinners," said he, "but the health of our Sovereign, that good, enchanting, and great man! Let us drink to his health and to the certain defeat of the French!"
"If we fought before," he said, "not letting the French pass, as at Schon Grabern, what shall we not do now when he is at the front? We will all die for him gladly! Is it not so, gentlemen? Perhaps I am not saying it right, I have drunk a good deal--but that is how I feel, and so do you too! To the health of Alexander the First! Hurrah!"
"Hurrah!" rang the enthusiastic voices of the officers.
And the old cavalry captain, Kirsten, shouted enthusiastically and no less sincerely than the twenty-year-old Rostov.
When the officers had emptied and smashed their glasses, Kirsten filled others and, in shirt sleeves and breeches, went glass in hand to the soldiers' bonfires and with his long gray mustache, his white chest showing under his open shirt, he stood in a majestic pose in the light of the campfire, waving his uplifted arm.
"Lads! here's to our Sovereign, the Emperor, and victory over our enemies! Hurrah!" he exclaimed in his dashing, old, hussar's baritone.
The hussars crowded round and responded heartily with loud shouts.
Late that night, when all had separated, Denisov with his short hand patted his favorite, Rostov, on the shoulder.
"As there's no one to fall in love with on campaign, he's fallen in love with the Tsar," he said.
"Denisov, don't make fun of it!" cried Rostov. "It is such a lofty, beautiful feeling, such a..."
"I believe it, I believe it, fwiend, and I share and appwove..."
"No, you don't understand!"
And Rostov got up and went wandering among the campfires, dreaming of what happiness it would be to die--not in saving the Emperor's life (he did not even dare to dream of that), but simply to die before his eyes. He really was in love with the Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms and the hope of future triumph. And he was not the only man to experience that feeling during those memorable days preceding the battle of Austerlitz: nine tenths of the men in the Russian army were then in love, though less ecstatically, with their Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms.