Chapter 19

AFTER GOING BACK to the regiment and reporting to the colonel the position of Denisov’s affairs, Rostov rode to Tilsit with the letter to the Emperor.

On the 13th of June the French and Russian Emperors met at Tilsit. Boris Drubetskoy had asked the personage of high rank on whom he was in attendance to include him in the suite destined to be staying at Tilsit.

“I should like to see the great man,” he said, meaning Napoleon, whom he had hitherto, like every one else, always spoken of as Bonaparte.

“You are speaking of Buonaparte?” the general said to him, smiling.

Boris looked inquiringly at his general, and immediately saw that this was a playful test.

“I am speaking, prince, of the Emperor Napoleon,” he replied. With a smile the general clapped him on the shoulder

“You will get on,” said he, and he took him with him. Boris was among the few present at Niemen on the day of the meeting of the Emperors. He saw the raft with the royal monograms, saw Napoleon’s progress through the French guards along the further bank, saw the pensive face of the Emperor Alexander as he sat silent in the inn on the bank of the Niemen waiting for Napoleon’s arrival. He saw both the Emperors get into boats, and Napoleon reaching the raft first, walked rapidly forward, and meeting Alexander, gave him his hand; then both the Emperors disappeared into a pavilion. Ever since he had entered these higher spheres, Boris had made it his habit to keep an attentive watch on what was passing round him, and to note it all down. During the meeting of the Emperors at Tilsit, he asked the names of the persons accompanying Napoleon, inquired about the uniforms they were wearing, and listened carefully to the utterances of persons of consequence. When the Emperors went into the pavilion, he looked at his watch, and did not forget to look at it again when Alexander came out. The interview had lasted an hour and fifty-three minutes; he noted this down that evening among other facts, which he felt were of historical importance. As the Emperors’ suite were few in number, to be present at Tilsit at the meeting of the Emperors was a matter of great consequence for a man who valued success in the service, and Boris, when he succeeded in obtaining this privilege, felt that his position was henceforth perfectly secure. He was not simply known, he had become an observed and familiar figure. On two occasions he had been sent with commissions to the Emperor himself, so that the Emperor knew him personally, and all the court no longer held aloof from him, as they had done at first, considering him a new man, and would even have noticed his absence with surprise if he had been away.

Boris was lodging with another adjutant, the Polish count, Zhilinsky. Zhilinsky, a Pole educated in Paris, was a wealthy man, devotedly attached to the French, and almost every day of their stay in Tilsit, French officers of the Guards and of the French head staff were dining and breakfasting with Zhilinsky and Boris.

On the 24th of June Zhilinsky, with whom Boris shared quarters, was giving a supper to his French acquaintances. At this supper there were present one of Napoleon’s adjutants—the guest of honour—several officers of the French Guards, and a young lad of an aristocratic old French family, a page of Napoleon’s. On the same evening Rostov, taking advantage of the darkness to pass through unrecognised, came to Tilsit in civilian dress, and went to the quarters of Zhilinsky and Boris.

Rostov, like the whole army indeed, was far from having passed through that revolution of feeling in regard to Napoleon and the French—transforming them from foes into friends—that had taken place at headquarters and in Boris. In the army every one was still feeling the same mingled hatred, fear, and contempt for Bonaparte and the French. Only recently Rostov had argued with an officer of Platov’s Cossacks the question whether if Napoleon was taken prisoner he was to be treated as an emperor or as a criminal. Only a little while previously Rostov had met a wounded French colonel on the road, and had maintained to him with heat that there could be no peace concluded between a legitimate emperor and the criminal Bonaparte. Consequently it struck Rostov as strange to see French officers in Boris’s

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