“Well, but this one, they say, is the commander of all the Emperor Alexander’s guards,” said the first speaker, pointing to a wounded Russian officer in the white uniform of the horse-guards. Bolkonsky recognised Prince Repnin, whom he had met in Petersburg society. Beside him stood another officer of the horse-guards, a lad of nineteen, also wounded.

Bonaparte rode up at a gallop and pulled up. “Who is the senior officer?” he said, on seeing the prisoners.

They named the colonel, Prince Repnin.

“Are you the commander of the regiment of Emperor Alexander’s horse-guards?” asked Napoleon.

“I was in command of a squadron,” replied Repnin.

“Your regiment did its duty honourably,” said Napoleon.

“The praise of a great general is a soldier’s best reward,” said Repnin.

“I bestow it upon you with pleasure,” said Napoleon. “Who is this young man beside you?” Prince Repnin gave his name, Lieutenant Suhtelen.

Looking at him, Napoleon said with a smile: “He has come very young to meddle with us.”

“Youth is no hindrance to valour,” said Suhtelen in a breaking voice.

“A fine answer,” said Napoleon; “young man, you will go far.”

Prince Andrey, who had been thrust forward under the Emperor’s eyes to complete the show of prisoners, could not fail to attract his notice. Napoleon apparently remembered seeing him on the field, and addressing him he used the same epithet, “young man,” with which his first sight of Bolkonsky was associated in his memory.

“And you, young man,” he said to him, “how are you feeling, mon brave?”

Although five minutes previously Prince Andrey had been able to say a few words to the soldiers who were carrying him, he was silent now, with his eyes fastened directly upon Napoleon. So trivial seemed to him at that moment all the interests that were engrossing Napoleon, so petty seemed to him his hero, with his paltry vanity and glee of victory, in comparison with that lofty, righteous, and kindly sky which he had seen and comprehended, that he could not answer him. And all indeed seemed to him so trifling and unprofitable beside the stern and solemn train of thought aroused in him by weakness from loss of blood, by suffering and the nearness of death. Gazing into Napoleon’s eyes, Prince Andrey mused on the nothingness of greatness, on the nothingness of life, of which no one could comprehend the significance, and on the nothingness—still more—of death, the meaning of which could be understood and explained by none of the living.

The Emperor, after vainly pausing for a reply, turned away and said to one of the officers in command—

“See that they look after these gentlemen and take them to my bivouac; let my doctor Larrey attend to their wounds. Au revoir, Prince Repnin,” and he galloped away.

His face was radiant with happiness and self-satisfaction.

The soldiers, who had been carrying Prince Andrey, had come across the golden relic Princess Marya had hung upon her brother’s neck, and taken it off him, but seeing the graciousness the Emperor had shown to the prisoners, they made haste to restore the holy image.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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