The adjutant-general, Woltzogen, the man whom Prince Andrey had overheard saying that the war ought to be “im Raum verlegen,” and whom Bagration so particularly detested, rode up to Kutuzov while he was at dinner. Woltzogen had come from Barclay to report on the progress of the fight on the left flank. The sagacious Barclay de Tolly, seeing crowds of wounded men running back, and the ranks in disorder, and weighing all the circumstances of the case, made up his mind that the battle was lost, and sent his favourite adjutant to the commander-in-chief to tell him so.

Kutuzov was with difficulty chewing roast chicken, and his eyes were screwed up with a more cheerful expression as he glanced at Woltzogen.

With a half-contemptuous smile Woltzogen walked carelessly up to Kutuzov, scarcely touching the peak of his cap.

He behaved to his highness with a certain affected negligence, which aimed at showing that he, as a highly trained military man, left it to the Russians to make a prodigy of this useless old person, and was himself well aware what kind of a man he had to deal with. “The ‘old gentleman’ ” —this was how Kutuzov was always spoken of in Woltzogen’s German circle—“is making himself quite comfortable,” he thought; and glancing severely at the dishes before Kutuzov, he began reporting to the old gentleman Barclay’s message and his own impressions and views. “Every point of our position is in the enemy’s hands, and they cannot be driven back, because there are not the troops to do it; the men run away and there’s no possibility of stopping them,” he submitted.

Kutuzov, stopping short in his munching, stared at Woltzogen in amazement, as though not understanding what was said to him. Woltzogen, noticing the old gentleman’s excitement, said with a smile:

“I did not consider I had a right to conceal from your highness what I saw.… The troops are completely routed.…”

“You saw? You saw?…” cried Kutuzov, getting up quickly, and stepping up to Woltzogen. “How…how dare you!…” making a menacing gesture with his trembling hands, he cried, with a catch in his breath: “How dare you, sir, tell me that? You know nothing about it. Tell General Barclay from me that his information is incorrect, and that I, the commander-in-chief, know more of the course of the battle than he does.”

Woltzogen would have made some protest, but Kutuzov interrupted him.

“The enemy has been repulsed on the left and defeated on the right flank. If you have seen amiss, sir, do not permit yourself to speak of what you do not understand. Kindly return to General Barclay and inform him of my unhesitating intention to attack the French to-morrow,” said Kutuzov sternly.

All were silent, and nothing was to be heard but the heavy breathing of the gasping, old general. “Repulsed at all points, for which I thank God and our brave men. The enemy is defeated, and to-morrow we will drive him out of the holy land of Russia!” said Kutuzov, crossing himself; and all at once he gave a sob from the rising tears.

Woltzogen, shrugging his shoulders, and puckering his lips, walked away in silence, marvelling “über diese Eingenommenheit des alten Herrn.”

“Ah, here he is, my hero!” said Kutuzov, as a stoutish, handsome, black-haired general came up the hillside. It was Raevsky, who had spent the whole day at the most important part of the battlefield.

Raevsky reported that the men were standing their ground firmly, and that the French were not venturing a further attack.

When he had heard him out, Kutuzov said in French: “You do not think, like some others, that we are obliged to retreat?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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