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War And Peace 368


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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 barrels. 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 previously. 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. CHAPTER VI 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 that day. 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 will. "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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