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War And Peace 372

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War And Peace

of the streets through which he rode, rugs, flags, and his monogram were displayed, and the Polish ladies, welcoming him, waved their handkerchiefs to him. At dinner, having placed Balashev beside him, Napoleon not only treated him amiably but behaved as if Balashev were one of his own courtiers, one of those who sympathized with his plans and ought to rejoice at his success. In the course of conversation he mentioned Moscow and questioned Balashev about the Russian capital, not merely as an interested traveler asks about a new city he intends to visit, but as if convinced that Balashev, as a Russian, must be flattered by his curiosity. "How many inhabitants are there in Moscow? How many houses? Is it true that Moscow is called Holy Moscow? How many churches are there in Moscow?" he asked. And receiving the reply that there were more than two hundred churches, he remarked: "Why such a quantity of churches?" "The Russians are very devout," replied Balashev. "But a large number of monasteries and churches is always a sign of the backwardness of a people," said Napoleon, turning to Caulaincourt for appreciation of this remark. Balashev respectfully ventured to disagree with the French Emperor. "Every country has its own character," said he. "But nowhere in Europe is there anything like that," said Napoleon. "I beg your Majestys pardon," returned Balashev, "besides Russia there is Spain, where there are also many churches and monasteries." This reply of Balashevs, which hinted at the recent defeats of the French in Spain, was much appreciated when he related it at Alexanders court, but it was not much appreciated at Napoleons dinner, where it passed unnoticed. The uninterested and perplexed faces of the marshals showed that they were puzzled as to what Balashevs tone suggested. "If there is a point we dont see it, or it is not at all witty," their expressions seemed to say. So little was his rejoinder appreciated that Napoleon did not notice it at all and naively asked Balashev through what towns the direct road from there to Moscow passed. Balashev, who was on the alert all through the dinner, replied that just as "all roads lead to Rome," so all roads lead to Moscow: there were many roads, and "among them the road through Poltava, which Charles XII chose." Balashev involuntarily flushed with pleasure at the aptitude of this reply, but hardly had he uttered the word Poltava before Caulaincourt began speaking of the badness of the road from Petersburg to Moscow and of his Petersburg reminiscences. After dinner they went to drink coffee in Napoleons study, which four days previously had been that of the Emperor Alexander. Napoleon sat down, toying with his Sevres coffee cup, and motioned Balashev to a chair beside him. Napoleon was in that well-known after-dinner mood which, more than any reasoned cause, makes a man contented with himself and disposed to consider everyone his friend. It seemed to him that he was surrounded by men who adored him: and he felt convinced that, after his dinner, Balashev too was his friend and worshiper. Napoleon turned to him with a pleasant, though slightly ironic, smile. "They tell me this is the room the Emperor Alexander occupied? Strange, isnt it, General?" he said, evidently not doubting that this remark would be agreeable to his hearer since it went to prove his, Napoleons, superiority to Alexander. Balashev made no reply and bowed his head in silence. "Yes. Four days ago in this room, Wintzingerode and Stein were deliberating," continued Napoleon with the same derisive and self-confident smile. "What I cant understand," he went on, "is that the Emperor Alexander has surrounded himself with my personal enemies. That I do not... understand. Has he not thought that I may do the same?" and he turned inquiringly to Balashev, and evidently this thought turned him back on to the track of his mornings anger, which was still fresh in him. "And let him know that I will do so!" said Napoleon, rising and pushing his cup away with his hand. "Ill drive all his Wurttemberg, Baden, and Weimar relations out of Germany.... Yes. Ill drive them out. Let him prepare an asylum for them in Russia!" Balashev bowed his head with an air indicating that he would like to make his bow and leave, and only listened because he could not help hearing what was said to him. Napoleon did not notice this expression; he treated Balashev not as an envoy from his enemy, but as a man now fully devoted to him and who must rejoice at his former masters humiliation. "And why has the Emperor

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