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War And Peace 218

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War And Peace

out and sat down on a sofa in the next room. He still had all the letters in his hand. Opening them mechanically he began reading. The old prince, now and then using abbreviations, wrote in his large elongated hand on blue paper as follows: Have just this moment received by special messenger very joyful news--if its not false. Bennigsen seems to have obtained a complete victory over Buonaparte at Eylau. In Petersburg everyone is rejoicing, and the rewards sent to the army are innumerable. Though he is a German--I congratulate him! I cant make out what the commander at Korchevo--a certain Khandrikov--is up to; till now the additional men and provisions have not arrived. Gallop off to him at once and say Ill have his head off if everything is not here in a week. Have received another letter about the Preussisch-Eylau battle from Petenka--he took part in it--and its all true. When mischief-makers dont meddle even a German beats Buonaparte. He is said to be fleeing in great disorder. Mind you gallop off to Korchevo without delay and carry out instructions! Prince Andrew sighed and broke the seal of another envelope. It was a closely written letter of two sheets from Bilibin. He folded it up without reading it and reread his fathers letter, ending with the words: "Gallop off to Korchevo and carry out instructions!" "No, pardon me, I wont go now till the child is better," thought he, going to the door and looking into the nursery. Princess Mary was still standing by the cot, gently rocking the baby. "Ah yes, and what else did he say thats unpleasant?" thought Prince Andrew, recalling his fathers letter. "Yes, we have gained a victory over Bonaparte, just when Im not serving. Yes, yes, hes always poking fun at me.... Ah, well! Let him!" And he began reading Bilibins letter which was written in French. He read without understanding half of it, read only to forget, if but for a moment, what he had too long been thinking of so painfully to the exclusion of all else. CHAPTER IX Bilibin was now at army headquarters in a diplomatic capacity, and though he wrote in French and used French jests and French idioms, he described the whole campaign with a fearless self-censure and self-derision genuinely Russian. Bilibin wrote that the obligation of diplomatic discretion tormented him, and he was happy to have in Prince Andrew a reliable correspondent to whom he could pour out the bile he had accumulated at the sight of all that was being done in the army. The letter was old, having been written before the battle at Preussisch-Eylau. "Since the day of our brilliant success at Austerlitz," wrote Bilibin, "as you know, my dear prince, I never leave headquarters. I have certainly acquired a taste for war, and it is just as well for me; what I have seen during these last three months is incredible. "I begin ab ovo. The enemy of the human race, as you know, attacks the Prussians. The Prussians are our faithful allies who have only betrayed us three times in three years. We take up their cause, but it turns out that the enemy of the human race pays no heed to our fine speeches and in his rude and savage way throws himself on the Prussians without giving them time to finish the parade they had begun, and in two twists of the hand he breaks them to smithereens and installs himself in the palace at Potsdam. "I most ardently desire, writes the King of Prussia to Bonaparte, that Your Majesty should be received and treated in my palace in a manner agreeable to yourself, and in so far as circumstances allowed, I have hastened to take all steps to that end. May I have succeeded! The Prussian generals pride themselves on being polite to the French and lay down their arms at the first demand. "The head of the garrison at Glogau, with ten thousand men, asks the King of Prussia what he is to do if he is summoned to surrender.... All this is absolutely true. "In short, hoping to settle matters by taking up a warlike attitude, it turns out that we have landed ourselves in war, and what is more, in war on our own frontiers, with and for the King of Prussia. We have everything in perfect order, only one little thing is lacking, namely, a commander in chief. As it was considered that the Austerlitz success might have been more decisive had the commander in chief not been so young, all our octogenarians were reviewed,

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