The forces of the vanguard were posted before Vishau in sight of the enemy’s line, which had been all day retreating before us at the slightest exchange of shots. The Tsar’s thanks were conveyed to the vanguard, rewards were promised, and a double allowance of vodka was served out to the men. Even more gaily than on the previous night the bivouac fires crackled, and the soldiers sang their songs. Denisov on that night celebrated his promotion to major, and, towards the end of the carousal, after a good deal of drinking, Rostov proposed a toast to the health of the Emperor, but “not our Sovereign the Emperor, as they say at official dinners,” said he, “but to the health of the Emperor, the good, enchanting, great man, let us drink to his health, and to a decisive victory over the French!”

“If we fought before,” said he, “and would not yield an inch before the French, as at Schöngraben, what will it be now when he is at our head? We will all die, we will gladly die for him. Eh, gentlemen? Perhaps I’m not saying it right. I’ve drunk a good deal, but that’s how I feel, and you do too. To the health of Alexander the First! Hurrah!”

“Hurrah!” rang out the cheery voices of the officers. And the old captain Kirsten shouted no less heartily and sincerely than Rostov, the boy of twenty.

When the officers had drunk the toast and smashed their glasses, Kirsten filled some fresh ones, and in his shirt-sleeves and riding-breeches went out to the soldiers’ camp-fires, glass in hand, and waving his hand in the air stood in a majestic pose, with his long grey whiskers and his white chest visible through the open shirt in the light of the camp-fire.

“Lads, to the health of our Sovereign the Emperor, to victory over our enemies, hurrah!” he roared in his stalwart old soldier’s baritone. The hussars thronged about him and responded by a loud shout in unison.

Late at night, when they had all separated, Denisov clapped his short hand on the shoulder of his favourite Rostov. “To be sure he’d no one to fall in love with in the field, so he’s fallen in love with the Tsar,” he said.

“Denisov, don’t joke about that,” cried Rostov, “it’s such a lofty, such a sublime feeling, so…”

“I believe you, I believe you, my dear, and I share the feeling and approve…”

“No, you don’t understand!” And Rostov got up and went out to wander about among the camp-fires, dreaming of what happiness it would be to die—not saving the Emperor’s life—(of that he did not even dare to dream), but simply to die before the Emperor’s eyes. He really was in love with the Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms and the hope of coming victory. And he was not the only man who felt thus in those memorable days that preceded the battle of Austerlitz: nine-tenths of the men in the Russian army were at that moment in love, though less ecstatically, with their Tsar and the glory of the Russian arms.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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