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War And Peace 160

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War And Peace

known to anyone in our army. His own strategic plan, which obviously could not now be carried out, was forgotten. Now, entering into Weyrothers plan, Prince Andrew considered possible contingencies and formed new projects such as might call for his rapidity of perception and decision. To the left down below in the mist, the musketry fire of unseen forces could be heard. It was there Prince Andrew thought the fight would concentrate. "There we shall encounter difficulties, and there," thought he, "I shall be sent with a brigade or division, and there, standard in hand, I shall go forward and break whatever is in front of me." He could not look calmly at the standards of the passing battalions. Seeing them he kept thinking, "That may be the very standard with which I shall lead the army." In the morning all that was left of the night mist on the heights was a hoar frost now turning to dew, but in the valleys it still lay like a milk-white sea. Nothing was visible in the valley to the left into which our troops had descended and from whence came the sounds of firing. Above the heights was the dark clear sky, and to the right the vast orb of the sun. In front, far off on the farther shore of that sea of mist, some wooded hills were discernible, and it was there the enemy probably was, for something could be descried. On the right the Guards were entering the misty region with a sound of hoofs and wheels and now and then a gleam of bayonets; to the left beyond the village similar masses of cavalry came up and disappeared in the sea of mist. In front and behind moved infantry. The commander in chief was standing at the end of the village letting the troops pass by him. That morning Kutuzov seemed worn and irritable. The infantry passing before him came to a halt without any command being given, apparently obstructed by something in front. "Do order them to form into battalion columns and go round the village!" he said angrily to a general who had ridden up. "Dont you understand, your excellency, my dear sir, that you must not defile through narrow village streets when we are marching against the enemy?" "I intended to re-form them beyond the village, your excellency," answered the general. Kutuzov laughed bitterly. "Youll make a fine thing of it, deploying in sight of the enemy! Very fine!" "The enemy is still far away, your excellency. According to the dispositions..." "The dispositions!" exclaimed Kutuzov bitterly. "Who told you that?... Kindly do as you are ordered." "Yes, sir." "My dear fellow," Nesvitski whispered to Prince Andrew, "the old man is as surly as a dog." An Austrian officer in a white uniform with green plumes in his hat galloped up to Kutuzov and asked in the Emperors name had the fourth column advanced into action. Kutuzov turned round without answering and his eye happened to fall upon Prince Andrew, who was beside him. Seeing him, Kutuzovs malevolent and caustic expression softened, as if admitting that what was being done was not his adjutants fault, and still not answering the Austrian adjutant, he addressed Bolkonski. "Go, my dear fellow, and see whether the third division has passed the village. Tell it to stop and await my orders." Hardly had Prince Andrew started than he stopped him. "And ask whether sharpshooters have been posted," he added. "What are they doing? What are they doing?" he murmured to himself, still not replying to the Austrian. Prince Andrew galloped off to execute the order. Overtaking the battalions that continued to advance, he stopped the third division and convinced himself that there really were no sharpshooters in front of our columns. The colonel at the head of the regiment was much surprised at the commander in chiefs order to throw out skirmishers. He had felt perfectly sure that there were other troops in front of him and that the enemy must be at least six miles away. There was really nothing to be seen in front except a barren descent hidden by dense mist. Having given orders in the commander in chiefs name to rectify this omission, Prince Andrew galloped back. Kutuzov still in the same place, his stout body resting heavily in the saddle with the lassitude of age, sat yawning wearily with closed eyes. The troops were no longer moving, but stood with the butts of their muskets on the ground. "All right, all right!" he said to Prince Andrew, and turned to a general who, watch in hand, was saying it was

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