Chapter 4

THE NOTE submitted by Bennigsen, and the report sent in by the Cossacks of the enemy’s left flank being unguarded, were simply the last straws that showed the inevitability of giving the signal for advance, and it was arranged to advance to attack on the 5th of October.

On the morning of the 4th, Kutuzov signed the disposition of the forces. Toll read it to Yermolov, proposing that he should superintend the further instructions for carrying it out.

“Very good, very good, I haven’t time just now,” said Yermolov, and he hurried out of the cottage. The arrangement of the troops as drawn up by Toll was an excellent one. The disposition had been written out, as at Austerlitz, though not in German:

“The First Column marches here and there, the Second Column occupies this place,” and so on.

On paper all these columns were in their proper place at a fixed time and annihilated the enemy. Everything had been, as in all such cases, carefully thought of, and as in all such cases not a single column did reach its right place at the right time. When a sufficient number of copies of the disposition were ready, an officer was summoned and sent off to give them to Yermolov, that he might see that instructions were given in accordance with them. A young officer of the horseguards, in waiting on Kutuzov, set off for Yermolov’s quarters, delighted at the importance of the commission with which he was intrusted.

“Not at home,” Yermolov’s servant told him. The officer of the horseguards set off to the quarters of the general, with whom Yermolov was often to be found.

“Not here, nor the general either,” he was told.

The officer mounted his horse again and rode off to another general’s.

“No, not at home.”

“If only I don’t get into trouble for the delay! How annoying!” thought the officer.

He rode all over the camp. One man told him he had seen Yermolov riding away in company with some other generals; another said he was sure to be at home again by now. The officer was hunting him till six o’clock in the evening without stopping for dinner. Yermolov was nowhere to be found, and no one knew where he was. The officer took a hasty meal at a comrade’s, and trotted back to the advance guard to see Miloradovitch. Miloradovitch, too, was not at home, but there he was told that he was at a ball at General Kikin’s and that, most likely, Yermolov was there too.

“But where is that?”

“At Etchkino, that way,” said an officer of the Cossacks, pointing out to him a country house in the far distance.

“Out there! beyond our lines!”

“Two regiments of our fellows have been sent out to the outposts, and there is a spree going on there now, fine doings! Two bands, three choruses of singers.”

The officer rode out beyond our lines to Etchkino. While yet a long way off, he heard the gay sounds of a soldier’s dance tune sung in chorus.

“In the meadows … in the meadows,” he heard with a whistle and string music, drowned from time to time in a roar of voices. The officer’s spirits, too, rose at these sounds, but at the same time he was in terror lest he should be held responsible for having so long delayed giving the important message intrusted to him. It was by now nearly nine o’clock. He dismounted and walked up to the entrance of a big manor- house that had been left uninjured between the French and the Russian lines. Footmen were bustling

  By PanEris using Melati.

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