Chapter 12

AT TEN O’CLOCK in the evening, Weierother with his plans rode over to Kutuzov’s quarters, where the council of war was to take place. All the commanders of columns were summoned to the commander- in-chief’s, and with the exception of Prince Bagration, who declined to come, all of them arrived at the hour fixed.

Weierother, who was entirely responsible for all the arrangements for the proposed battle, in his eagerness and hurry, was a striking contrast to the ill-humoured and sleepy Kutuzov, who reluctantly played the part of president and chairman of the council of war. Weierother obviously felt himself at the head of the movement that had been set going and could not be stopped. He was like a horse in harness running downhill with a heavy load behind him. Whether he were pulling it or it were pushing him, he could not have said, but he was flying along at full speed with no time to consider where this swift motion would land him. Weierother had been twice that evening to make a personal inspection up to the enemy’s line, and twice he had been with the Emperors, Russian and Austrian, to report and explain, and to his office, where he had dictated the disposition of the German troops. He came now, exhausted, to Kutuzov’s.

He was evidently so much engrossed that he even forgot to be respectful to the commander-in-chief. He interrupted him, talked rapidly and indistinctly, without looking at the person he was addressing, failed to answer questions that were put to him, was spattered with mud, and had an air pitiful, exhausted, distracted, and at the same time self-confident and haughty.

Kutuzov was staying in a small nobleman’s castle near Austerlitz. In the drawing-room, which had been made the commander-in-chief’s study, were gathered together: Kutuzov himself, Weierother, and the members of the council of war. They were drinking tea. They were only waiting for Prince Bagration to open the council. Presently Bagration’s orderly officer came with a message that the prince could not be present. Prince Andrey came in to inform the commander-in-chief of this; and, profiting by the permission previously given him by Kutuzov to be present at the council, he remained in the room.

“Well, since Prince Bagration isn’t coming, we can begin,” said Weierother, hastily getting up from his place and approaching the table, on which an immense map of the environs of Brünn lay unfolded.

Kutuzov, his uniform unbuttoned, and his fat neck as though set free from bondage, bulging over the collar, was sitting in a low chair with his podgy old hands laid symmetrically on the arms; he was almost asleep.

At the sound of Weierother’s voice, he made an effort and opened his solitary eye.

“Yes, yes, please, it’s late as it is,” he assented, and nodding his head, he let it droop and closed his eyes again.

If the members of the council had at first believed Kutuzov to be shamming sleep, the nasal sounds to which he gave vent during the reading that followed, proved that the commander-in-chief was concerned with something of far greater consequence than the desire to show his contempt for their disposition of the troops or anything else whatever; he was concerned with the satisfaction of an irresistible human necessity—sleep. He was really asleep. Weierother, with the gesture of a man too busy to lose even a minute of his time, glanced at Kutuzov and satisfying himself that he was asleep, he took up a paper and in a loud, monotonous tone began reading the disposition of the troops in the approaching battle under a heading, which he also read.

“Disposition for the attack of the enemy’s position behind Kobelnitz and Sokolnitz, November 20, 1805.”

The disposition was very complicated and intricate.

“As the enemy’s left wing lies against the wooded hills and their right wing is advancing by way of Kobelnitz and Sokolnitz behind the swamps that lie there, while on the other hand our left wing stretches far beyond

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