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Chapter 9

  • Pursued by the French army of a hundred thousand men under the command o_onaparte, encountering a population that was unfriendly to it, losin_onfidence in its allies, suffering from shortness of supplies, and compelle_o act under conditions of war unlike anything that had been foreseen, th_ussian army of thirty-five thousand men commanded by Kutuzov was hurriedl_etreating along the Danube, stopping where overtaken by the enemy an_ighting rearguard actions only as far as necessary to enable it to retrea_ithout losing its heavy equipment. There had been actions at Lambach,
  • Amstetten, and Melk; but despite the courage and endurance—acknowledged eve_y the enemy—with which the Russians fought, the only consequence of thes_ctions was a yet more rapid retreat. Austrian troops that had escaped captur_t Ulm and had joined Kutuzov at Braunau now separated from the Russian army,
  • and Kutuzov was left with only his own weak and exhausted forces. The defens_f Vienna was no longer to be thought of. Instead of an offensive, the plan o_hich, carefully prepared in accord with the modern science of strategics, ha_een handed to Kutuzov when he was in Vienna by the Austrian Hofkriegsrath,
  • the sole and almost unattainable aim remaining for him was to effect _unction with the forces that were advancing from Russia, without losing hi_rmy as Mack had done at Ulm.
  • On the twenty-eighth of October Kutuzov with his army crossed to the left ban_f the Danube and took up a position for the first time with the river betwee_imself and the main body of the French. On the thirtieth he attacke_ortier's division, which was on the left bank, and broke it up. In thi_ction for the first time trophies were taken: banners, cannon, and two enem_enerals. For the first time, after a fortnight's retreat, the Russian troop_ad halted and after a fight had not only held the field but had repulsed th_rench. Though the troops were ill-clad, exhausted, and had lost a third o_heir number in killed, wounded, sick, and stragglers; though a number of sic_nd wounded had been abandoned on the other side of the Danube with a lette_n which Kutuzov entrusted them to the humanity of the enemy; and though th_ig hospitals and the houses in Krems converted into military hospitals coul_o longer accommodate all the sick and wounded, yet the stand made at Krem_nd the victory over Mortier raised the spirits of the army considerably.
  • Throughout the whole army and at headquarters most joyful though erroneou_umors were rife of the imaginary approach of columns from Russia, of som_ictory gained by the Austrians, and of the retreat of the frightene_onaparte.
  • Prince Andrew during the battle had been in attendance on the Austrian Genera_chmidt, who was killed in the action. His horse had been wounded under hi_nd his own arm slightly grazed by a bullet. As a mark of the commander i_hief's special favor he was sent with the news of this victory to th_ustrian court, now no longer at Vienna (which was threatened by the French)
  • but at Brunn. Despite his apparently delicate build Prince Andrew could endur_hysical fatigue far better than many very muscular men, and on the night o_he battle, having arrived at Krems excited but not weary, with dispatche_rom Dokhturov to Kutuzov, he was sent immediately with a special dispatch t_runn. To be so sent meant not only a reward but an important step towar_romotion.
  • The night was dark but starry, the road showed black in the snow that ha_allen the previous day—the day of the battle. Reviewing his impressions o_he recent battle, picturing pleasantly to himself the impression his news o_ victory would create, or recalling the send-off given him by the commande_n chief and his fellow officers, Prince Andrew was galloping along in a pos_haise enjoying the feelings of a man who has at length begun to attain _ong-desired happiness. As soon as he closed his eyes his ears seemed fille_ith the rattle of the wheels and the sensation of victory. Then he began t_magine that the Russians were running away and that he himself was killed,
  • but he quickly roused himself with a feeling of joy, as if learning afres_hat this was not so but that on the contrary the French had run away. H_gain recalled all the details of the victory and his own calm courage durin_he battle, and feeling reassured he dozed off… . The dark starry night wa_ollowed by a bright cheerful morning. The snow was thawing in the sunshine,
  • the horses galloped quickly, and on both sides of the road were forests o_ifferent kinds, fields, and villages.
  • At one of the post stations he overtook a convoy of Russian wounded. Th_ussian officer in charge of the transport lolled back in the front cart,
  • shouting and scolding a soldier with coarse abuse. In each of the long Germa_arts six or more pale, dirty, bandaged men were being jolted over the ston_oad. Some of them were talking (he heard Russian words), others were eatin_read; the more severely wounded looked silently, with the languid interest o_ick children, at the envoy hurrying past them.
  • Prince Andrew told his driver to stop, and asked a soldier in what action the_ad been wounded. "Day before yesterday, on the Danube," answered the soldier.
  • Prince Andrew took out his purse and gave the soldier three gold pieces.
  • "That's for them all," he said to the officer who came up.
  • "Get well soon, lads!" he continued, turning to the soldiers. "There's plent_o do still."
  • "What news, sir?" asked the officer, evidently anxious to start _onversation.
  • "Good news!… Go on!" he shouted to the driver, and they galloped on.
  • It was already quite dark when Prince Andrew rattled over the paved streets o_runn and found himself surrounded by high buildings, the lights of shops,
  • houses, and street lamps, fine carriages, and all that atmosphere of a larg_nd active town which is always so attractive to a soldier after camp life.
  • Despite his rapid journey and sleepless night, Prince Andrew when he drove u_o the palace felt even more vigorous and alert than he had done the da_efore. Only his eyes gleamed feverishly and his thoughts followed one anothe_ith extraordinary clearness and rapidity. He again vividly recalled th_etails of the battle, no longer dim, but definite and in the concise form i_hich he imagined himself stating them to the Emperor Francis. He vividl_magined the casual questions that might be put to him and the answers h_ould give. He expected to be at once presented to the Emperor. At the chie_ntrance to the palace, however, an official came running out to meet him, an_earning that he was a special messenger led him to another entrance.
  • "To the right from the corridor, Euer Hochgeboren! There you will find th_djutant on duty," said the official. "He will conduct you to the Minister o_ar."
  • The adjutant on duty, meeting Prince Andrew, asked him to wait, and went in t_he Minister of War. Five minutes later he returned and bowing with particula_ourtesy ushered Prince Andrew before him along a corridor to the cabine_here the Minister of War was at work. The adjutant by his elaborate courtes_ppeared to wish to ward off any attempt at familiarity on the part of th_ussian messenger.
  • Prince Andrew's joyous feeling was considerably weakened as he approached th_oor of the minister's room. He felt offended, and without his noticing it th_eeling of offense immediately turned into one of disdain which was quit_ncalled for. His fertile mind instantly suggested to him a point of vie_hich gave him a right to despise the adjutant and the minister. "Away fro_he smell of powder, they probably think it easy to gain victories!" h_hought. His eyes narrowed disdainfully, he entered the room of the Ministe_f War with peculiarly deliberate steps. This feeling of disdain wa_eightened when he saw the minister seated at a large table reading som_apers and making pencil notes on them, and for the first two or three minute_aking no notice of his arrival. A wax candle stood at each side of th_inister's bent bald head with its gray temples. He went on reading to th_nd, without raising his eyes at the opening of the door and the sound o_ootsteps.
  • "Take this and deliver it," said he to his adjutant, handing him the paper_nd still taking no notice of the special messenger.
  • Prince Andrew felt that either the actions of Kutuzov's army interested th_inister of War less than any of the other matters he was concerned with, o_e wanted to give the Russian special messenger that impression. "But that i_ matter of perfect indifference to me," he thought. The minister drew th_emaining papers together, arranged them evenly, and then raised his head. H_ad an intellectual and distinctive head, but the instant he turned to Princ_ndrew the firm, intelligent expression on his face changed in a way evidentl_eliberate and habitual to him. His face took on the stupid artificial smile
  • (which does not even attempt to hide its artificiality) of a man who i_ontinually receiving many petitioners one after another.
  • "From General Field Marshal Kutuzov?" he asked. "I hope it is good news? Ther_as been an encounter with Mortier? A victory? It was high time!"
  • He took the dispatch which was addressed to him and began to read it with _ournful expression.
  • "Oh, my God! My God! Schmidt!" he exclaimed in German. "What a calamity! Wha_ calamity!"
  • Having glanced through the dispatch he laid it on the table and looked a_rince Andrew, evidently considering something.
  • "Ah what a calamity! You say the affair was decisive? But Mortier is no_aptured." Again he pondered. "I am very glad you have brought good news,
  • though Schmidt's death is a heavy price to pay for the victory. His Majest_ill no doubt wish to see you, but not today. I thank you! You must have _est. Be at the levee tomorrow after the parade. However, I will let yo_now."
  • The stupid smile, which had left his face while he was speaking, reappeared.
  • "Au revoir! Thank you very much. His Majesty will probably desire to see you,"
  • he added, bowing his head.
  • When Prince Andrew left the palace he felt that all the interest and happines_he victory had afforded him had been now left in the indifferent hands of th_inister of War and the polite adjutant. The whole tenor of his thought_nstantaneously changed; the battle seemed the memory of a remote event lon_ast.