Chapter 8

THE DAY AFTER ROSTOV’S VISIT to Boris, the review took place of the Austrian and Russian troops, both the reinforcements freshly arrived from Russia and the troops that had been campaigning with Kutuzov. Both Emperors, the Russian Emperor with the Tsarevitch, and the Austrian with the archduke, were to assist at this review of the allied forces, making up together an army of eighty thousand men. From early morning the troops, all smart and clean, had been moving about the plain before the fortress. Thousands of legs and bayonets moved with flags waving, and halted at the word of command, turned and formed at regular intervals, moving round other similar masses of infantry in different uniforms. With the rhythmic tramp of hoofs, the smartly dressed cavalry in blue, and red, and green laced uniforms rode jingling by on black and chestnut and grey horses, the bandsmen in front covered with embroidery. Between the infantry and the cavalry the artillery, in a long line of polished, shining cannons quivering on their carriages, crawled slowly by with their heavy, brazen sound, and their peculiar smell from the linstocks, and ranged themselves in their places. Not only the generals in their full parade uniform, wearing scarves and all their decorations, with waists, portly and slim alike, pinched in to the uttermost, and red necks squeezed into stiff collars, not only the pomaded, dandified officers, but every soldier, with his clean, washed, and shaven face, and weapons polished to the utmost possibility of glitter, every horse rubbed down till its coat shone like satin, and every hair in its moistened mane lay in place—all alike felt it no joking matter, felt that something grave and solemn was going forward. Every general and every soldier was conscious of his own significance, feeling himself but a grain of sand in that ocean of humanity, and at the same time was conscious of his might, feeling himself a part of that vast whole. There had been strenuous exertion and bustle since early morning, and by ten o’clock everything was in the required order. The rows of soldiers were standing on the immense plain. The whole army was drawn out in three lines. In front was the cavalry; behind, the artillery; still further back, the infantry.

Between each two ranks of soldiery there was as it were a street. The army was sharply divided into three parts: Kutuzov’s army (on the right flank of which stood the Pavlograd hussars in the front line), the regiments of the line and the guards that had arrived from Russia, and the Austrian troops. But all stood in one line, under one command, and in similar order.

Like a wind passing over the leaves, the excited whisper fluttered over the plain: “They are coming! they are coming!” There was a sound of frightened voices, and the hurried men’s fuss over the last finishing touches ran like a wave over the troops.

A group came into sight moving towards them from Olmütz in front of them. And at the same moment, though there had been no wind, a faint breeze fluttered over the army, and stirred the streamers on the lances, and sent the unfurled flags flapping against their flagstaffs. It looked as though in this slight movement the army itself were expressing its joy at the approach of the Emperors. One voice was heard saying: “Steady!” Then like cocks at sunrise, voices caught up and repeated the sound in different parts of the plain. And all sank into silence.

In the deathlike stillness, the only sound was the tramp of hoofs. It was the Emperors’ suite. The Emperors rode towards the flank, and the trumpets of the first cavalry regiment began playing a march. It seemed as though the sound did not come from the trumpeters, but that the army itself was naturally giving forth this music in its delight at the Emperors’ approach. Through the music could be distinctly heard one voice, the genial, youthful voice of the Emperor Alexander. He uttered some words of greeting, and the first regiment boomed out: “Hurrah!” with a shout so deafening, so prolonged, so joyful, that the men themselves felt awestruck at the multitude and force of the mass they made up.

Rostov, standing in the foremost ranks of Kutuzov’s army, which the Tsar approached first of all, was possessed by the feeling, common to every man in that army—a feeling of self-oblivion, of proud consciousness of their might and passionate devotion to the man who was the centre of that solemn ceremony.

He felt that at one word from that man all that vast mass (and he, an insignificant atom bound up with it) would rush through fire and water, to crime, to death, or to the grandest heroism, and so he could not but thrill and tremble at the sight of the man who was the embodiment of that word.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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