Chapter 10

THIS LETTER had not yet been given to the Tsar, when Barclay, at dinner one day, informed Bolkonsky that his majesty would be graciously pleased to see Prince Andrey in person, to ask him some questions about Turkey, and that Prince Andrey was to present himself at Bennigsen’s quarters at six o’clock in the evening.

That day news had reached the Tsar’s quarters of a fresh advance on Napoleon’s part that might be regarded as menacing the army—news that turned out in the sequel to be false. And that morning Colonel Michaud had accompanied the Tsar on a tour of inspection about the Drissa fortifications; and had tried to convince the Tsar that the fortified camp, constructed on Pfuhl’s theory, and hitherto regarded as the chef d’œuvre of tactical science, destined to overthrow Napoleon—that that camp was a senseless absurdity that would lead to the destruction of the Russian army.

Prince Andrey arrived at Bennigsen’s quarters, a small manor-house on the very bank of the river. Neither Bennigsen nor the Tsar was there; but Tchernishev, the Tsar’s aide-de-camp, received Bolkonsky, and informed him that the Tsar had set off with General Bennigsen and Marchese Paulucci to make his second inspection that day of the fortifications of the Drissa camp, of the utility of which they were beginning to entertain grave doubts.

Tchernishev sat in the window of the outer room with a French novel. This room had once probably been the main hall; there was still an organ in it, on which were piled rugs of some sort, and in the corner of the room was a folding bedstead belonging to Bennigsen’s adjutant. The owner of the bedstead, too, was there. Apparently exhausted by work or festivities, he sat dozing on the folded bed. Two doors led from the room: one straight in front opening into the drawing-room, another on the right opening into the study. From the first door came the sound of voices speaking German and occasionally French. In the drawing-room there was being held, by the Tsar’s desire, not a military council—the Tsar loved to have things vague—but a meeting of a few persons, whose opinions he wished to hear in the present difficult position. It was not a military council, but a sort of council for the elucidation of certain questions for the benefit of the Tsar personally. To this sort of semi-council had been bidden the Swedish general, Armfeldt, the general on the staff Woltzogen, Wintzengerode (whom Napoleon had called a renegade French subject), Michaud, Toll, Count Stein—by no means a military man—and finally Pfuhl, who was, so Prince Andrey had heard, la cheville ouvrière of everything. Prince Andrey had the opportunity of getting a good view of him, as Pfuhl came in shortly after his arrival and stopped for a minute to say a few words to Tchernishev before going on into the drawing-room.

At the first glance Pfuhl, in his badly cut uniform of a Russian general, which looked out of keeping, like some fancy dress costume on him, seemed to Prince Andrey like a familiar figure, though he had never seen him before. He was of the same order as Weierother, and Mack, and Schmidt, and many other German generals, men of theory, whom Prince Andrey had seen in the war of 1808; but he was a more perfect type of the class than any of them. Such a typical German theorist, combining in himself all the characteristics of those other Germans, Prince Andrey had never seen before.

Pfuhl was short and very thin, but broad-boned, of a coarsely robust build, with broad hips and projecting shoulder-blades. His face was wrinkled; he had deep-set eyes; his hair had obviously been hastily brushed smooth in front, but stuck out behind in quaint wisps. Looking nervously and irritably about him, he walked in as though he were afraid of everything in the great room he had entered. With a clumsy gesture, holding his sword, he turned to Tchernishev, asking him where the Tsar was. He was unmistakably eager to get through the rooms, to get the bows and greetings over as quickly as possible, and to sit down to work at a map, where he would feel at home. He gave a hurried nod in response to Tchernishev’s words, and smiled ironically on hearing that the Tsar was inspecting the fortifications that he, Pfuhl, had planned in accordance with his theory. He muttered something in the jerky bass, in which conceited Germans often speak, “silly fool…” or “damn the whole business…” or “some idiocy’s sure to come of that.” Prince Andrey did not catch his words, and would have passed on, but Tchernishev introduced him to Pfuhl, observing that he had just come from Turkey, where the war had been so successfully concluded. Pfuhl barely glanced, not at, but across Prince Andrey, and commented, laughing: “A model that war

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