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War And Peace 167

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War And Peace

were. The highroad on which he had come out was thronged with caleches, carriages of all sorts, and Russian and Austrian soldiers of all arms, some wounded and some not. This whole mass droned and jostled in confusion under the dismal influence of cannon balls flying from the French batteries stationed on the Pratzen Heights. "Where is the Emperor? Where is Kutuzov?" Rostov kept asking everyone he could stop, but got no answer from anyone. At last seizing a soldier by his collar he forced him to answer. "Eh, brother! Theyve all bolted long ago!" said the soldier, laughing for some reason and shaking himself free. Having left that soldier who was evidently drunk, Rostov stopped the horse of a batman or groom of some important personage and began to question him. The man announced that the Tsar had been driven in a carriage at full speed about an hour before along that very road and that he was dangerously wounded. "It cant be!" said Rostov. "It must have been someone else." "I saw him myself," replied the man with a self-confident smile of derision. "I ought to know the Emperor by now, after the times Ive seen him in Petersburg. I saw him just as I see you.... There he sat in the carriage as pale as anything. How they made the four black horses fly! Gracious me, they did rattle past! Its time I knew the Imperial horses and Ilya Ivanych. I dont think Ilya drives anyone except the Tsar!" Rostov let go of the horse and was about to ride on, when a wounded officer passing by addressed him: "Who is it you want?" he asked. "The commander in chief? He was killed by a cannon ball--struck in the breast before our regiment." "Not killed--wounded!" another officer corrected him. "Who? Kutuzov?" asked Rostov. "Not Kutuzov, but whats his name--well, never mind... there are not many left alive. Go that way, to that village, all the commanders are there," said the officer, pointing to the village of Hosjeradek, and he walked on. Rostov rode on at a footpace not knowing why or to whom he was now going. The Emperor was wounded, the battle lost. It was impossible to doubt it now. Rostov rode in the direction pointed out to him, in which he saw turrets and a church. What need to hurry? What was he now to say to the Tsar or to Kutuzov, even if they were alive and unwounded? "Take this road, your honor, that way you will be killed at once!" a soldier shouted to him. "Theyd kill you there!" "Oh, what are you talking about?" said another. "Where is he to go? That way is nearer." Rostov considered, and then went in the direction where they said he would be killed. "Its all the same now. If the Emperor is wounded, am I to try to save myself?" he thought. He rode on to the region where the greatest number of men had perished in fleeing from Pratzen. The French had not yet occupied that region, and the Russians--the uninjured and slightly wounded--had left it long ago. All about the field, like heaps of manure on well-kept plowland, lay from ten to fifteen dead and wounded to each couple of acres. The wounded crept together in twos and threes and one could hear their distressing screams and groans, sometimes feigned--or so it seemed to Rostov. He put his horse to a trot to avoid seeing all these suffering men, and he felt afraid--afraid not for his life, but for the courage he needed and which he knew would not stand the sight of these unfortunates. The French, who had ceased firing at this field strewn with dead and wounded where there was no one left to fire at, on seeing an adjutant riding over it trained a gun on him and fired several shots. The sensation of those terrible whistling sounds and of the corpses around him merged in Rostovs mind into a single feeling of terror and pity for himself. He remembered his mothers last letter. "What would she feel," thought he, "if she saw me here now on this field with the cannon aimed at me?" In the village of Hosjeradek there were Russian troops retiring from the field of battle, who though still in some confusion were less disordered. The French cannon did not reach there and the musketry fire sounded far away. Here everyone clearly saw and said that the battle was lost. No one whom Rostov asked could tell him where the Emperor or Kutuzov was. Some said the

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