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Chapter 13

  • That same night, Rostov was with a platoon on skirmishing duty in front o_agration's detachment. His hussars were placed along the line in couples an_e himself rode along the line trying to master the sleepiness that kep_oming over him. An enormous space, with our army's campfires dimly glowing i_he fog, could be seen behind him; in front of him was misty darkness. Rosto_ould see nothing, peer as he would into that foggy distance: now somethin_leamed gray, now there was something black, now little lights seemed t_limmer where the enemy ought to be, now he fancied it was only something i_is own eyes. His eyes kept closing, and in his fancy appeared—now th_mperor, now Denisov, and now Moscow memories—and he again hurriedly opene_is eyes and saw close before him the head and ears of the horse he wa_iding, and sometimes, when he came within six paces of them, the blac_igures of hussars, but in the distance was still the same misty darkness.
  • "Why not?… It might easily happen," thought Rostov, "that the Emperor wil_eet me and give me an order as he would to any other officer; he'll say: 'G_nd find out what's there.' There are many stories of his getting to know a_fficer in just such a chance way and attaching him to himself! What if h_ave me a place near him? Oh, how I would guard him, how I would tell him th_ruth, how I would unmask his deceivers!" And in order to realize vividly hi_ove devotion to the sovereign, Rostov pictured to himself an enemy or _eceitful German, whom he would not only kill with pleasure but whom he woul_lap in the face before the Emperor. Suddenly a distant shout aroused him. H_tarted and opened his eyes.
  • "Where am I? Oh yes, in the skirmishing line… pass and watchword—shaft, Olmutz. What a nuisance that our squadron will be in reserve tomorrow," h_hought. "I'll ask leave to go to the front, this may be my only chance o_eeing the Emperor. It won't be long now before I am off duty. I'll tak_nother turn and when I get back I'll go to the general and ask him." H_eadjusted himself in the saddle and touched up his horse to ride once mor_ound his hussars. It seemed to him that it was getting lighter. To the lef_e saw a sloping descent lit up, and facing it a black knoll that seemed a_teep as a wall. On this knoll there was a white patch that Rostov could no_t all make out: was it a glade in the wood lit up by the moon, or som_nmelted snow, or some white houses? He even thought something moved on tha_hite spot. "I expect it's snow… that spot… a spot—une tache," he thought.
  • "There now… it's not a tache… Natasha… sister, black eyes… Na… tasha… (Won'_he be surprised when I tell her how I've seen the Emperor?) Natasha… take m_abretache… "—"Keep to the right, your honor, there are bushes here," came th_oice of an hussar, past whom Rostov was riding in the act of falling asleep.
  • Rostov lifted his head that had sunk almost to his horse's mane and pulled u_eside the hussar. He was succumbing to irresistible, youthful, childis_rowsiness. "But what was I thinking? I mustn't forget. How shall I speak t_he Emperor? No, that's not it—that's tomorrow. Oh yes! Natasha… sabretache… saber them… Whom? The hussars… Ah, the hussars with mustaches. Along th_verskaya Street rode the hussar with mustaches… I thought about him too, jus_pposite Guryev's house… Old Guryev… . Oh, but Denisov's a fine fellow. Bu_hat's all nonsense. The chief thing is that the Emperor is here. How h_ooked at me and wished to say something, but dared not… . No, it was I wh_ared not. But that's nonsense, the chief thing is not to forget the importan_hing I was thinking of. Yes, Na-tasha, sabretache, oh, yes, yes! That'_ight!" And his head once more sank to his horse's neck. All at once it seeme_o him that he was being fired at. "What? What? What?… Cut them down! What?… "
  • said Rostov, waking up. At the moment he opened his eyes he heard in front o_im, where the enemy was, the long-drawn shouts of thousands of voices. Hi_orse and the horse of the hussar near him pricked their ears at these shouts.
  • Over there, where the shouting came from, a fire flared up and went out again, then another, and all along the French line on the hill fires flared up an_he shouting grew louder and louder. Rostov could hear the sound of Frenc_ords but could not distinguish them. The din of many voices was too great; all he could hear was: "ahahah!" and "rrrr!"
  • "What's that? What do you make of it?" said Rostov to the hussar beside him.
  • "That must be the enemy's camp!"
  • The hussar did not reply.
  • "Why, don't you hear it?" Rostov asked again, after waiting for a reply.
  • "Who can tell, your honor?" replied the hussar reluctantly.
  • "From the direction, it must be the enemy," repeated Rostov.
  • "It may be he or it may be nothing," muttered the hussar. "It's dark… Steady!"
  • he cried to his fidgeting horse.
  • Rostov's horse was also getting restive: it pawed the frozen ground, prickin_ts ears at the noise and looking at the lights. The shouting grew stil_ouder and merged into a general roar that only an army of several thousan_en could produce. The lights spread farther and farther, probably along th_ine of the French camp. Rostov no longer wanted to sleep. The gay triumphan_houting of the enemy army had a stimulating effect on him. "Vive l'Empereur!
  • L'Empereur!" he now heard distinctly.
  • "They can't be far off, probably just beyond the stream," he said to th_ussar beside him.
  • The hussar only sighed without replying and coughed angrily. The sound o_orse's hoofs approaching at a trot along the line of hussars was heard, an_ut of the foggy darkness the figure of a sergeant of hussars suddenl_ppeared, looming huge as an elephant.
  • "Your honor, the generals!" said the sergeant, riding up to Rostov.
  • Rostov, still looking round toward the fires and the shouts, rode with th_ergeant to meet some mounted men who were riding along the line. One was on _hite horse. Prince Bagration and Prince Dolgorukov with their adjutants ha_ome to witness the curious phenomenon of the lights and shouts in the enemy'_amp. Rostov rode up to Bagration, reported to him, and then joined th_djutants listening to what the generals were saying.
  • "Believe me," said Prince Dolgorukov, addressing Bagration, "it is nothing bu_ trick! He has retreated and ordered the rearguard to kindle fires and make _oise to deceive us."
  • "Hardly," said Bagration. "I saw them this evening on that knoll; if they ha_etreated they would have withdrawn from that too… . Officer!" said Bagratio_o Rostov, "are the enemy's skirmishers still there?"
  • "They were there this evening, but now I don't know, your excellency. Shall _o with some of my hussars to see?" replied Rostov.
  • Bagration stopped and, before replying, tried to see Rostov's face in th_ist.
  • "Well, go and see," he said, after a pause.
  • "Yes, sir."
  • Rostov spurred his horse, called to Sergeant Fedchenko and two other hussars, told them to follow him, and trotted downhill in the direction from which th_houting came. He felt both frightened and pleased to be riding alone wit_hree hussars into that mysterious and dangerous misty distance where no on_ad been before him. Bagration called to him from the hill not to go beyon_he stream, but Rostov pretended not to hear him and did not stop but rode o_nd on, continually mistaking bushes for trees and gullies for men an_ontinually discovering his mistakes. Having descended the hill at a trot, h_o longer saw either our own or the enemy's fires, but heard the shouting o_he French more loudly and distinctly. In the valley he saw before hi_omething like a river, but when he reached it he found it was a road. Havin_ome out onto the road he reined in his horse, hesitating whether to rid_long it or cross it and ride over the black field up the hillside. To keep t_he road which gleamed white in the mist would have been safer because i_ould be easier to see people coming along it. "Follow me!" said he, crosse_he road, and began riding up the hill at a gallop toward the point where th_rench pickets had been standing that evening.
  • "Your honor, there he is!" cried one of the hussars behind him. And befor_ostov had time to make out what the black thing was that had suddenl_ppeared in the fog, there was a flash, followed by a report, and a bulle_hizzing high up in the mist with a plaintive sound passed out of hearing.
  • Another musket missed fire but flashed in the pan. Rostov turned his horse an_alloped back. Four more reports followed at intervals, and the bullets passe_omewhere in the fog singing in different tones. Rostov reined in his horse, whose spirits had risen, like his own, at the firing, and went back at _ootpace. "Well, some more! Some more!" a merry voice was saying in his soul.
  • But no more shots came.
  • Only when approaching Bagration did Rostov let his horse gallop again, an_ith his hand at the salute rode up to the general.
  • Dolgorukov was still insisting that the French had retreated and had only li_ires to deceive us.
  • "What does that prove?" he was saying as Rostov rode up. "They might retrea_nd leave the pickets."
  • "It's plain that they have not all gone yet, Prince," said Bagration. "Wai_ill tomorrow morning, we'll find out everything tomorrow."
  • "The picket is still on the hill, your excellency, just where it was in th_vening," reported Rostov, stooping forward with his hand at the salute an_nable to repress the smile of delight induced by his ride and especially b_he sound of the bullets.
  • "Very good, very good," said Bagration. "Thank you, officer."
  • "Your excellency," said Rostov, "may I ask a favor?"
  • "What is it?"
  • "Tomorrow our squadron is to be in reserve. May I ask to be attached to th_irst squadron?"
  • "What's your name?"
  • "Count Rostov."
  • "Oh, very well, you may stay in attendance on me."
  • "Count Ilya Rostov's son?" asked Dolgorukov.
  • But Rostov did not reply.
  • "Then I may reckon on it, your excellency?"
  • "I will give the order."
  • "Tomorrow very likely I may be sent with some message to the Emperor," though_ostov.
  • "Thank God!"
  • The fires and shouting in the enemy's army were occasioned by the fact tha_hile Napoleon's proclamation was being read to the troops the Emperor himsel_ode round his bivouacs. The soldiers, on seeing him, lit wisps of straw an_an after him, shouting, "Vive l'Empereur!" Napoleon's proclamation was a_ollows:
  • Soldiers! The Russian army is advancing against you to avenge the Austria_rmy of Ulm. They are the same battalions you broke at Hollabrunn and hav_ursued ever since to this place. The position we occupy is a strong one, an_hile they are marching to go round me on the right they will expose a flan_o me. Soldiers! I will myself direct your battalions. I will keep out of fir_f you with your habitual valor carry disorder and confusion into the enemy'_anks, but should victory be in doubt, even for a moment, you will see you_mperor exposing himself to the first blows of the enemy, for there must be n_oubt of victory, especially on this day when what is at stake is the honor o_he French infantry, so necessary to the honor of our nation.
  • Do not break your ranks on the plea of removing the wounded! Let every man b_ully imbued with the thought that we must defeat these hirelings of England, inspired by such hatred of our nation! This victory will conclude our campaig_nd we can return to winter quarters, where fresh French troops who are bein_aised in France will join us, and the peace I shall conclude will be worth_f my people, of you, and of myself.
  • NAPOLEON