Chapter 16

“WELL, now, that’s all,” said Kutuzov, as he signed the last paper, and rising clumsily, and straightening his fat, white neck, he went to the door with a more cheerful countenance.

The priest’s wife, with the colour rushing to her face, snatched up the dish, and though she had been so long preparing, she did not succeed in presenting it at the right moment. With a low bow she offered it to Kutuzov. Kutuzov screwed up his eyes. He smiled, chucked her under the chin, and said:

“And what a pretty face! Thank you, my dear!”

He took some gold coins out of his trouser pocket, and put them on the dish. “Well, and how are we getting on?” he said, going towards the room that had been assigned him. The priest’s wife, with smiling dimples on her rosy face, followed to show him the room. The adjutant came out to Prince Andrey in the porch, and invited him to lunch. Half an hour later Kutuzov sent for Prince Andrey. He was reclining in a low chair, still in the same unbuttoned military coat. He had a French novel in his hand, and at Prince Andrey’s entrance laid a paper-knife in it and put it aside. It was Les Chevaliers du Cygne, a work by Madame de Genlis, as Prince Andrey saw by the cover.

“Well, sit down; sit down here. Let us have a little talk,” said Kutuzov. “It’s sad; very sad. But remember, my dear, think of me as a father, another father, to you …!”

Prince Andrey told Kutuzov all he knew about his father’s end, and what he had seen at Bleak Hills.

“To think what we have been brought to!” Kutuzov cried suddenly, in a voice full of feeling, Prince Andrey’s story evidently bringing vividly before him the position of Russia.

“Wait a bit; wait a bit!” he added, with a vindictive look in his face, and apparently unwilling to continue a conversation that stirred him too deeply, he said:

“I sent for you to keep you with me.”

“I thank your highness!” answered Prince Andrey, “but I am afraid I am no more good for staff work,” he said, with a smile, which Kutuzov noticed. He looked at him inquiringly. “And the great thing is,” added Prince Andrey, “I am used to my regiment. I like the officers; and I think the men have come to like me. I should be sorry to leave the regiment. If I decline the honour of being in attendance on you, believe me …”

Kutuzov’s podgy face beamed with a shrewd, good-natured, and yet subtly ironical expression. He cut Bolkonsky short.

“I’m sure you would have been of use to me. But you’re right; you’re right. It’s not here that we want men. There are always a multitude of counsellors; but men are scarce. The regiments wouldn’t be what they are if all the would-be counsellors would serve in them like you. I remember you at Austerlitz. I remember, I remember you with the flag!” said Kutuzov, and a flush of pleasure came into Prince Andrey’s face at this reminiscence. Kutuzov held out his hand to him, offering him his cheek to kiss, and again Prince Andrey saw tears in the old man’s eye. Though Prince Andrey knew Kutuzov’s tears were apt to come easily, and that he was particularly affectionate and tender with him from the desire to show sympathy with his loss, yet he felt this reminder of Austerlitz agreeable and flattering.

“Go your own way, and God bless you in it. … I know your path is the path of honour!” He paused. “I missed you at Bucharest. I wanted some one to send …” And changing the subject, Kutuzov began talking of the Turkish war, and of the peace that had been concluded. “Yes, I have been roundly abused,” he said, “both for the war and the peace … but it all happened in the nick of time.” “ ‘Everything comes in time for him who knows how to wait,’ ” he said, quoting the French proverb. “And there were as many counsellors there as here, …” he went on, returning to the superfluity of advisers, a subject which evidently occupied his mind. “Ugh, counsellors and counsellors!” he said. “If we had listened to all of them, we

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.