“You have muddled and spoilt it all. You would all know better than I, and now you come to me to ask how to set things right. There is nothing that needs setting right. The only thing is to carry out in exact detail the plan laid down by me,” he said, rapping his bony fingers on the table. “Where’s the difficulty? It’s nonsense; child’s play!” He went up to the map, and began talking rapidly, pointing with his wrinkled finger about the map, and proving that no sort of contingency could affect the adaptability of the Drissa camp to every emergency, that every chance had been foreseen, and that if the enemy actually did make a circuit round it, then the enemy would infallibly be annihilated.

Paulucci, who did not know German, began to ask him questions in French. Woltzogen came to the assistance of his leader, who spoke French very badly, and began translating his utterances, hardly able to keep pace with Pfuhl, who was proceeding at a great rate to prove that everything, everything, not only what was happening, but everything that possibly could happen, had been provided for in his plan, and that if difficulties had arisen now, they were due simply to the failure to carry out that plan with perfect exactitude. He was continually giving vent to a sarcastic laugh as he went on proving, and at last scornfully abandoned all attempt to prove, his position, as a mathematician will refuse to establish by various different methods a problem he has once for all proved to be correctly solved. Woltzogen took his place, continuing to explain his views in French, and occasionally referring to Pfuhl himself: “Is that not true, your excellency?” But Pfuhl, as a man in the heat of the fray will belabour those of his own side, shouted angrily at his own follower—at Woltzogen, too.

“To be sure, what is there to explain in that?”

Paulucci and Michaud fell simultaneously on Woltzogen in French. Armfeldt addressed Pfuhl himself in German. Toll was interpreting to Prince Volkonsky in Russian. Prince Andrey listened and watched them in silence.

Of all these men the one for whom Prince Andrey felt most sympathy was the exasperated, determined, insanely conceited Pfuhl. He was the only one of all the persons present who was unmistakably seeking nothing for himself, and harbouring no personal grudge against anybody else. He desired one thing only—the adoption of his plan, in accordance with the theory that was the fruit of years of toil. He was ludicrous; he was disagreeable with his sarcasm, but yet he roused an involuntary feeling of respect from his boundless devotion to an idea.

Apart from this, with the single exception of Pfuhl, every speech of every person present had one common feature, which Prince Andrey had not seen at the council of war in 1805—that was, a panic dread of the genius of Napoleon, a dread which was involuntarily betrayed in every utterance now, in spite of all efforts to conceal it. Anything was assumed possible for Napoleon; he was expected from every quarter at once, and to invoke his terrible name was enough for them to condemn each other’s suggestions. Pfuhl alone seemed to look on him too, even Napoleon, as a barbarian, like every other opponent of his theory; and Pfuhl roused a feeling of pity, too, as well as respect, in Prince Andrey. From the tone with which the courtiers addressed him, from what Paulucci had ventured to say to the Tsar, and above all from a certain despairing expression in Pfuhl himself, it was clear that others knew, and he himself, that his downfall was at hand. And for all his conceit and his German grumpy irony, he was pitiful with his flattened locks on his forehead and his wisps of uncombed hair sticking out behind. Though he tried to conceal it under a semblance of anger and contempt, he was visibly in despair that the sole chance left him of testing his theory on a vast scale and proving its infallibility to the whole world was slipping away from him.

The debate lasted a long while, and the longer it continued the hotter it became, passing into clamour and personalities, and the less possible it was to draw any sort of general conclusion from what was uttered. Prince Andrey simply wondered at what they were all saying as he listened to the confusion of different tongues, and the propositions, the plans, the shouts, and the objections. The idea which had long ago and often occurred to him during the period of his active service, that there was and could be no sort of military science, and that therefore there could not be such a thing as military genius, seemed

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