from the right to the left flank of the position, and to aim a blow at the French right flank next day. Opinions were divided, and arguments were advanced for and against this project. Yermolov, Dohturov, and Raevsky sided with Bennigsen. Led by a feeling that a sacrifice was called for before abandoning the city, and by other personal considerations, these generals seemed unable to grasp that the council then sitting could not affect the inevitable course of events, and that Moscow was already in effect abandoned. The other generals understood this, and leaving the question of Moscow on one side, talked of the direction the army ought to take in retreating.

Malasha, who kept her eyes fixed on what was passing before her, saw the council in quite a different light. It seemed to her that the whole point at issue was a personal struggle between “Granddad” and “Longcoat,” as she called Bennigsen to herself. She saw that they were angry when they spoke to one another, and in her heart she was on “Granddad’s” side. In the middle of the conversation, she caught the swift, subtle glance that “Granddad” gave Bennigsen, and immediately after she noted with glee that “Granddad’s” words had put “Longcoat” down. Bennigsen suddenly flushed, and strode angrily across the room. The words that had thus affected Bennigsen were Kutuzov’s quietly and softly uttered comment on his proposal to move the troops from the right to the left flank in the night in order to attack the French right.

“I cannot approve of the count’s plan, gentlemen,” said Kutuzov. “Movements of troops in close proximity to the enemy are always risky, and military history affords many examples of disasters arising from them. For instance …” (Kutuzov seemed to ponder, seeking an example, and then looking with a frank, naïve expression at Bennigsen) … “well, the battle of Friedland, which, as I have no doubt the count remembers, was not … completely successful owing to the change of the position of the troops in too close proximity to the enemy …”

A momentary silence followed that seemed lengthy to all.

The debate was renewed; but pauses often interrupted it, and it was felt that there was nothing to talk about.

In one of these pauses Kutuzov heaved a heavy sigh, as though preparing to speak. All looked round at him.

“Well, gentlemen, I see that it is I who will have to pay for the broken pots,” he said. And slowly rising from his seat, he walked up to the table. “Gentlemen, I have heard your opinions. Some of you will not agree with me. But I” (he stopped), “by the authority intrusted me by my Tsar and my country, give the order to retire.”

After that the generals began to disperse with the solemnity and circumspect taciturnity with which people separate after a funeral. Several of the generals made some communication to the commander-in-chief in a low voice, pitched in quite a different scale from that in which they had been talking at the council.

Malasha, who had long been expected in the other room to supper, dropped backwards down from the stove, her bare toes clinging to the projections of the stove, and slipping between the generals’ legs, she darted out at the door.

After dismissing the generals, Kutuzov sat a long while with his elbows on the table, pondering that terrible question: “When, when had it become inevitable that Moscow should be abandoned? When was the thing done that made it inevitable, and who is to blame for it?”

“This I did not expect!” he said to the adjutant, Schneider, who came in to him late at night; “this I did not expect! This I never thought of!”

“You must rest, your highness,” said Schneider.

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