sung so loudly—it was pardonable in his grief to forget what he had said before—he said that nothing else was to be expected from a blind and dissolute old man.

“I only wonder how such a man could possibly be trusted with the fate of Russia.”

So long as the news was not official, it was still possible to doubt its truth; but next day the following communication arrived from Count Rastoptchin:

“Prince Kutuzov’s adjutant has brought me a letter in which he asks me to furnish police-officers to escort the army to the Ryazan road. He says that he is regretfully abandoning Moscow. Sire! Kutuzov’s action decides the fate of that capital and of your empire. Russia will shudder to learn of the abandonment of the city, where the greatness of Russia is centred, where are the ashes of our forefathers. I am following the army. I have had everything carried away; all that is left me is to weep over the fate of my country.”

On receiving this communication, the Tsar sent Prince Volkonsky with the following rescript to Kutuzov:

“Prince Mihail Ilarionovitch! I have received no communication from you since the 29th of August. Meanwhile I have received, by way of Yaroslavl, from the governor of Moscow the melancholy intelligence that you have decided with the army to abandon Moscow. You can imagine the effect this news has had upon me, and your silence redoubles my astonishment. I am sending herewith Staff-General Prince Volkonsky, to ascertain from you the position of the army and of the causes that have led you to so melancholy a decision.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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