were displeased with him at headquarters, and that all the persons at the Emperor’s headquarters took the tone with him of people who knew something other people are not aware of; and for that reason he wanted to have some talk with Dolgorukov.

“Oh, good evening, my dear boy,” said Dolgorukov, who was sitting at tea with Bilibin. “The fête’s for to- morrow. How’s your old fellow? out of humour?”

“I won’t say he’s out of humour, but I fancy he would like to get a hearing.”

“But he did get a hearing at the council of war, and he will get a hearing when he begins to talk sense. But to delay and wait about now when Bonaparte fears a general engagement more than anything—is out of the question.”

“Oh yes, you have seen him,” said Prince Andrey. “Well, what did you think of Bonaparte? What impression did he make on you?”

“Yes, I saw him, and I’m persuaded he fears a general engagement more than anything in the world,” repeated Dolgorukov, who evidently attached great value to this general deduction he had made from his interview with Napoleon. “If he weren’t afraid of an engagement what reason has he to ask for this interview, to open negotiations, and, above all, to retreat, when retreat is contrary to his whole method of conducting warfare? Believe me, he’s afraid, afraid of a general engagement; his hour has come, mark my words.”

“But tell me what was he like, how did he behave?” Prince Andrey still insisted.

“He’s a man in a grey overcoat, very anxious to be called ‘your majesty,’ but disappointed at not getting a title of any kind out of me. That’s the sort of man he is, that’s all,” answered Dolgorukov, looking round with a smile at Bilibin.

“In spite of my profound respect for old Kutuzov,” he pursued, “a pretty set of fools we should be to wait about and let him have a chance to get away or cheat us, when as it is he’s in our hands for certain. No, we mustn’t forget Suvorov and his rule—never to put oneself in a position to be attacked, but to make the attack oneself. Believe me, the energy of young men is often a safer guide in warfare than all the experience of the old cunctators.”

“But in what position are you going to attack him? I have been at the outposts to-day, and there was no making out where his chief forces are concentrated,” said Prince Andrey. He was longing to explain to Dolgorukov his own idea, the plan of attack he had formed.

“Ah, that’s a matter of no consequence whatever,” Dolgorukov said quickly, getting up and unfolding a map on the table. “Every contingency has been provided for; if he is concentrated at Brünn.…” And Prince Dolgorukov gave a rapid and vague account of Weierother’s plan of a flank movement.

Prince Andrey began to make objections and to explain his own plan, which may have been as good as Weierother’s, but had the fatal disadvantage that Weierother’s plan had already been accepted. As soon as Prince Andrey began to enlarge on the drawbacks of the latter and the advantages of his own scheme, Prince Dolgorukov ceased to attend, and looked without interest not at the map, but at Prince Andrey’s face.

“There is to be a council of war at Kutuzov’s to-night, though; you can explain all that then,” said Dolgorukov.

“That’s what I am going to do,” said Prince Andrey, moving away from the map.

“And what are you worrying yourselves about, gentlemen?” said Bilibin, who had till then been listening to their talk with a beaming smile, but now unmistakably intended to make a joke. “Whether there is victory or defeat to-morrow, the glory of the Russian arms is secure. Except your Kutuzov, there’s not

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.