Chapter 9

THE DAY AFTER THE REVIEW Boris Drubetskoy put on his best uniform, and accompanied by his comrade Berg’s good wishes for his success, rode to Olmütz to see Bolkonsky, in the hope of profiting by his friendliness to obtain a better position, especially the position of an adjutant in attendance on some personage of importance, a post which seemed to him particularly alluring.

“It’s all very well for Rostov, whose father sends him ten thousand at a time, to talk about not caring to cringe to any one, and not being a lackey to any man. But I, with nothing of my own but my brains, have my career to make, and mustn’t let opportunities slip, but must make the most of them.”

He did not find Prince Andrey at Olmütz that day. But the sight of Olmütz—where were the headquarters and the diplomatic corps, and where both Emperors with their suites, their households, and their court, were staying—only strengthened his desire to belong to this upper world.

He knew no one; and in spite of his smart guardsman’s uniform, all these exalted persons, racing to and fro about the streets in their elegant carriages, plumes, ribbons, and orders, courtiers and military alike, all seemed to be so immeasurably above him, a little officer in the Guards, as to be not simply unwilling, but positively unable to recognise his existence. At the quarters of the commander-in-chief, Kutuzov, where he asked for Bolkonsky, all the adjutants and even the orderlies looked at him as though they wished to impress on him that a great many officers of his sort came hanging about here, and that they were all heartily sick of seeing them. In spite of this, or rather in consequence of it, he went again the following day, the 15th, after dinner, to Olmütz, and going into the house occupied by Kutuzov, asked for Bolkonsky. Prince Andrey was at home, and Boris was ushered into a large room, probably at some time used for dancing. Now there were five bedsteads in it and furniture of various kinds: a table, chairs, a clavichord. One adjutant was sitting in a Persian dressing-gown writing at a table near the door. Another, the stout, red-faced Nesvitsky, was lying on a bed, his arms under his head, laughing with an officer sitting by the bedside. A third was playing a Vienna waltz on the clavichord, while a fourth lay on the clavichord, humming to the tune. Bolkonsky was not in the room. Not one of these gentlemen changed his position on observing Boris. The one who was writing, on being applied to by Boris, turned round with an air of annoyance, and told him that Bolkonsky was the adjutant on duty, and that he should go to the door to the left, into the reception-room, if he wanted to see him. Boris thanked him, and went to the reception-room. There he found some ten officers and generals.

At the moment when Boris entered, Prince Andrey dropping his eye-lids disdainfully (with that peculiar air of courteous weariness which so distinctly says, “If it were not my duty, I would not stay talking to you for a minute”), was listening to an old Russian general with many decorations, who, rigidly erect, almost on tiptoe, was laying some matter before Prince Andrey with the obsequious expression of a common soldier on his purple face.

“Very good, be so kind as to wait a moment,” he said to the general in Russian, with that French accent with which he always spoke when he meant to speak disdainfully, and noticing Boris, Prince Andrey took no further notice of the general (who ran after him with entreaties, begging him to hear something more), but nodded to Boris with a bright smile, as he turned towards him. At that moment Boris saw distinctly what he had had an inkling of before, that is, that quite apart from that subordination and discipline, which is written down in the drill-book, and recognised in the regiment and known to him, there was in the army another and more actual subordination, that which made this rigid, purple-faced general wait respectfully while Prince Andrey—of captain’s rank—found it more in accordance with his pleasure to talk to Lieutenant Drubetskoy. Boris felt more than ever determined to follow in future the guidance not of the written code laid down in the regulations, but of this unwritten code. He felt now that simply because he had been recommended to Prince Andrey, he had become at one step superior to the general, who in other circumstances, at the front, could annihilate a mere lieutenant in the guards like him. Prince Andrey went up to him and shook hands.

“Very sorry you didn’t find me in yesterday. I was busy the whole day with the Germans. We went with Weierother to survey the disposition. When Germans start being accurate, there’s no end to it!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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