Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
his pocket, left the shed.
A minute later the marshals adjutant, de Castres, came in and
conducted Balashev to the quarters assigned him.
That day he dined with the marshal, at the same board on the
Next day Davout rode out early and, after asking Balashev to come to
him, peremptorily requested him to remain there, to move on with the
baggage train should orders come for it to move, and to talk to no one
except Monsieur de Castres.
After four days of solitude, ennui, and consciousness of his
impotence and insignificance--particularly acute by contrast with
the sphere of power in which he had so lately moved--and after several
marches with the marshals baggage and the French army, which occupied
the whole district, Balashev was brought to Vilna--now occupied by the
French--through the very gate by which he had left it four days
Next day the imperial gentleman-in-waiting, the Comte de Turenne,
came to Balashev and informed him of the Emperor Napoleons wish to
honor him with an audience.
Four days before, sentinels of the Preobrazhensk regiment had
stood in front of the house to which Balashev was conducted, and now
two French grenadiers stood there in blue uniforms unfastened in front
and with shaggy caps on their heads, and an escort of hussars and
Uhlans and a brilliant suite of aides-de-camp, pages, and generals,
who were waiting for Napoleon to come out, were standing at the porch,
round his saddle horse and his Mameluke, Rustan. Napoleon received
Balashev in the very house in Vilna from which Alexander had
dispatched him on his mission.
Though Balashev was used to imperial pomp, he was amazed at the
luxury and magnificence of Napoleons court.
The Comte de Turenne showed him into a big reception room where many
generals, gentlemen-in-waiting, and Polish magnates--several of whom
Balashev had seen at the court of the Emperor of Russia--were waiting.
Duroc said that Napoleon would receive the Russian general before
going for his ride.
After some minutes, the gentleman-in-waiting who was on duty came
into the great reception room and, bowing politely, asked Balashev
to follow him.
Balashev went into a small reception room, one door of which led
into a study, the very one from which the Russian Emperor had
dispatched him on his mission. He stood a minute or two, waiting. He
heard hurried footsteps beyond the door, both halves of it were opened
rapidly; all was silent and then from the study the sound was heard of
other steps, firm and resolute--they were those of Napoleon. He had
just finished dressing for his ride, and wore a blue uniform,
opening in front over a white waistcoat so long that it covered his
rotund stomach, white leather breeches tightly fitting the fat
thighs of his short legs, and Hessian boots. His short hair had
evidently just been brushed, but one lock hung down in the middle of
his broad forehead. His plump white neck stood out sharply above the
black collar of his uniform, and he smelled of Eau de Cologne. His
full face, rather young-looking, with its prominent chin, wore a
gracious and majestic expression of imperial welcome.
He entered briskly, with a jerk at every step and his head
slightly thrown back. His whole short corpulent figure with broad
thick shoulders, and chest and stomach involuntarily protruding, had
that imposing and stately appearance one sees in men of forty who live
in comfort. It was evident, too, that he was in the best of spirits
He nodded in answer to Balashavs low and respectful bow, and coming
up to him at once began speaking like a man who values every moment of
his time and does not condescend to prepare what he has to say but
is sure he will always say the right thing and say it well.
"Good day, General!" said he. "I have received the letter you
brought from the Emperor Alexander and am very glad to see you." He
glanced with his large eyes into Balashavs face and immediately
looked past him.
It was plain that Balashevs personality did not interest him at
all. Evidently only what took place within his own mind interested
him. Nothing outside himself had any significance for him, because
everything in the world, it seemed to him, depended entirely on his
"I do not, and did not, desire war," he continued, "but it has
been forced on me. Even now" (he emphasized the word) "I am ready to
receive any explanations you can give me."
And he began clearly and concisely to explain his reasons for
dissatisfaction with the Russian government. Judging
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