Chapter 15

ON RECEIVING THE CHIEF COMMAND of the army, Kutuzov remembered Prince Andrey and sent him a summons to headquarters.

Prince Andrey reached Tsarevo-Zaimishtche on the very day and at the very hour when Kutuzov was making his first inspection of the troops. Prince Andrey stopped in the village at the house of the priest, where the commander-in-chief’s carriage was standing, and sat down on a bench at the gate to await his highness, as every one now called Kutuzov. From the plain beyond the village came the sounds of regimental music, and the roar of a vast multitude, shouting “Hurrah!” to the new commander-in-chief. At the gate, some ten paces from Prince Andrey, stood two orderlies, a courier, and a butler, taking advantage of their master’s absence to enjoy the fine weather. A swarthy, little lieutenant-colonel of hussars, his face covered with bushy moustaches and whiskers, rode up to the gate, and glancing at Prince Andrey asked whether his highness were putting up here and whether he would soon be back.

Prince Andrey told him that he did not belong to his highness’s staff, but had only just arrived. The lieutenant- colonel of hussars turned to the smart orderly, and the orderly told him with the peculiar scornfulness with which a commander-in-chief’s orderlies do speak to officers:

“His highness? We expect him back immediately. What is your business?”

The officer grinned in his moustaches at the orderly’s tone, dismounted, gave his horse to a servant, and went up to Bolkonsky with a slight bow.

Bolkonsky made room for him on the bench. The hussar sat down beside him.

“You, too, waiting for the commander-in-chief?” he began. “They say he is willing to see any one, thank God! It was a very different matter with the sausage-makers! Yermolov might well ask to be promoted a German. Now, I dare say, Russians may dare to speak again. And devil knows what they have been about. Nothing but retreating and retreating. Have you been in the field?” he asked.

“I have had the pleasure,” said Prince Andrey, “not only of taking part in the retreat, but also of losing everything I valued in the retreat—not to speak of my property and the home of my birth … my father, who died of grief. I am a Smolensk man.”

“Ah! … Are you Prince Bolkonsky? Very glad to make your acquaintance. Lieutenant-colonel Denisov, better known by the name of Vaska,” said Denisov, pressing Prince Andrey’s hand and looking into his face with a particularly kindly expression. “Yes, I had heard about it,” he said sympathetically, and after a brief pause he added: “Yes, this is Scythian warfare. It’s all right, but not for those who have to pay the piper. So you are Prince Andrey Bolkonsky?” He shook his head. “I am very glad, prince; very glad to make your acquaintance,” he added, pressing his hand again with a melancholy smile.

Prince Andrey knew of Denisov from Natasha’s stories of her first suitor. The recollection of them—both sweet and bitter—carried him back to the heart-sickness of which he had of late never thought, though it still lay buried within him. Of late so many different and grave matters, such as the abandonment of Smolensk, his visit to Bleak Hills, the recent news of his father’s death—so many emotions had filled his heart that those memories had long been absent, and when they returned did not affect him nearly so violently. And for Denisov, the associations awakened by the name of Bolkonsky belonged to a far-away, romantic past, when, after supper and Natasha’s singing, hardly knowing what he was doing, he had made an offer to the girl of fifteen. He smiled at the recollection of that time and his love for Natasha, and passed at once to what he was just now intensely and exclusively interested in. This was a plan of campaign he had formed while on duty at the outposts during the retreat. He had laid the plan before Barclay de Tolly, and now intended to lay it before Kutuzov. The plan was based on the fact that the line of the French operations was too extended, and on the suggestion that, instead of or along with a frontal attack, barring the advance of the French, attacks should be made on their communications. He began explaining his plan to Prince Andrey.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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