defence being unsuccessful, to throw the blame on Kutuzov, who had brought the army as far as the Sparrow Hills without a battle; in case of its being successful, to claim the credit; in case of it not being attempted, to clear himself of the crime of abandoning Moscow.

But these questions of intrigue did not occupy the old man’s mind now. One terrible question absorbed him. And to that question he heard no reply from any one. The question for him now was this: “Can it be that I have let Napoleon get to Moscow, and when did I do it? When did it happen? Was it yesterday, when I sent word to Platov to retreat, or the evening before when I had a nap and bade Bennigsen give instructions? Or earlier still? … When, when was it this fearful thing happened? Moscow must be abandoned. The army must retire, and I must give the order for it.”

To give that terrible order seemed to him equivalent to resigning the command of the army. And apart from the fact that he loved power, and was used to it (the honours paid to Prince Prozorovsky, under whom he had been serving in Turkey, galled him), he was convinced that he was destined to deliver Russia, and had only for that cause been chosen commander-in-chief contrary to the Tsar’s wishes by the will of the people. He was persuaded that in these difficult circumstances he was the one man who could maintain his position at the head of the army, that he was the only man in the world capable of meeting Napoleon as an antagonist without panic. And he was in terror at the idea of having to resign the command. But he must decide on some step, he must cut short this chatter round him, which was beginning to assume too free a character.

He beckoned the senior generals to him.

Ma tête, fût-elle bonne ou mauvaise, n’a qu’à s’aider d’elle-même,” he said, getting up from his bench, and he rode off to Fili, where his carriages were waiting.

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