they do no good. What can they cure? They can’t cure anything. Our body is a machine for living. It is organised for that, it is its nature; leave life to it unhindered, let life defend itself in it; it will do more than if you paralyse it, encumbering it with remedies. Our body is a perfect watch, meant to go for a certain time; the watchmaker has not the power of opening it, he can only handle it in fumbling fashion, blindfold. Our body is a machine for living, that’s all.” And apparently because he had dropped into making definitions, which he had a weakness for doing, he suddenly hazarded one on a fresh subject. “Do you know, Rapp, what the military art consists in?” he asked. “It is the art of being stronger than the enemy at a given moment. That is all.”

Rapp made no reply.

“To-morrow we shall have to do with Kutuzov,” said Napoleon. “We shall see! Do you remember, he was in command at Braunau, and never once in three weeks mounted a horse to inspect his entrenchments. We shall see!”

He looked at his watch. It was still only four o’clock. He was not sleepy; the punch was finished, and there was still nothing to do. He got up, walked up and down, put on a warm coat and hat and went out of the tent. The night was dark and damp; a slight drizzle was falling almost inaudibly. Close by in the French Guard, the camp-fires burned dimly, and far away they were blazing brightly through the smoke along the Russian line. The air was still, and a faint stir and tramp could be distinctly heard from the French troops beginning to move to occupy the position.

Napoleon walked to and fro before the tent, looked at the fires, listened to the tramp, and passed by a tall guardsman in a fur cap, a sentinel at his tent, who drew himself up like a black post on seeing the Emperor. The latter stood still, facing him.

“Since what year have you served?” he asked, with that affectation of military bluntness and geniality with which he always addressed the soldiers. The soldier answered.

“Ah! one of the veterans! Have you all had rice in the regiment?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

Napoleon nodded and walked away.

At half-past five Napoleon rode to the village of Shevardino.

It began to get light; the sky cleared, only a single storm cloud lay on the eastern horizon. The deserted camp-fires burned down in the pale light of morning.

A solitary, deep cannon shot boomed out on the right, hovered in the air, and died away in the stillness. Several minutes passed. A second, and a third shot was heard, the air was full of vibration; a fourth and a fifth boomed out majestically, closely on the right.

The first shots had not died away, when others rang out, and more and more, their notes blending and overtaking one another.

Napoleon rode with his suite to the Shevardino redoubt, and dismounted there. The game had begun.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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