At one of the stations he overtook a convoy of Russian wounded. The Russian officer in charge of the transport lay lolling back in the foremost cart, and was shouting coarse abuse at a soldier. In each of the long German Vorspanns six or more pale, bandaged, and dirty wounded men were being jolted over the stony roads. Some of them were talking (he caught the sound of Russian words), others were eating bread; the most severely wounded gazed dumbly at the posting cart trotting by, with the languid interest of sick children.

Prince Andrey told the driver to stop, and asked a soldier in what battle they had been wounded.

“The day before yesterday on the Danube,” answered the soldier. Prince Andrey took out his purse and gave the soldier three gold pieces.

“For all,” he added, addressing the officer as he came up. “Get well, lads,” he said to the soldiers, “there’s a lot to do yet.”

“What news?” asked the officer, evidently anxious to get into conversation.

“Good news! Forward!” he called to the driver, and galloped on.

It was quite dark when Prince Andrey rode into Bränn, and saw himself surrounded by high houses, lighted shops, the lighted windows of houses, and street lamps, handsome carriages noisily rolling over the pavement, and all that atmosphere of a great town full of life, which is so attractive to a soldier after camp. In spite of the rapid drive and sleepless night, Prince Andrey felt even more alert, as he drove up to the palace, than he had on the previous evening. Only his eyes glittered with a feverish brilliance, and his ideas followed one another with extreme rapidity and clearness. He vividly pictured again all the details of the battle, not in confusion, but definitely, in condensed shape, as he meant to present them to the Emperor Francis. He vividly imagined the casual questions that might be put to him and the answers he would make to them. He imagined that he would be at once presented to the Emperor. But at the chief entrance of the palace an official ran out to meet him, and learning that he was a special messenger, led him to another entrance.

“Turning to the right out of the corridor, Euer Hochgeboren, you will find the adjutant on duty,” the official said to him. “He will conduct you to the minister of war.”

The adjutant on duty, meeting Prince Andrey, asked him to wait, and went into the war minister. Five minutes later the adjutant returned, and with marked courtesy, bowing and ushering Prince Andrey before him, he led him across the corridor to the private room of the war minister. The adjutant, by his elaborately formal courtesy, seemed to wish to guard himself from any attempt at familiarity on the part of the Russian adjutant. The joyous feeling of Prince Andrey was considerably damped as he approached the door of the minister’s room. He felt slighted, and the feeling of being slighted passed instantaneously without his being aware of it himself—into a feeling of disdain, which was quite uncalled for. His subtle brain at the same instant supplied him with the point of view from which he had the right to feel disdain both of the adjutant and the minister of war. “No doubt it seems to them a very simple matter to win victories, never having smelt powder!” he thought. His eyelids drooped disdainfully; he walked with peculiar deliberateness into the war minister’s room. This feeling was intensified when he saw the minister of war sitting at a big table, and for the first two minutes taking no notice of his entrance. The minister of war had his bald head, with grey curls on the temple, held low between two wax candles; he was reading some papers, and marking them with a pencil. He went on reading to the end, without raising his eyes at the opening of the door and the sound of footsteps.

“Take this and give it him,” said the minister of war to his adjutant, handing him the papers, and taking no notice of the Russian attaché.

Prince Andrey felt that either the minister of war took less interest in the doings of Kutuzov’s army than in any other subject demanding his attention, or that he wanted to make the Russian attaché feel this.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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