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War And Peace 472

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War And Peace

time comes to set to work I shall do it as no one else could, but now I can jest, and the more I jest and the calmer I am the more tranquil and confident you ought to be, and the more amazed at my genius." Having finished his second glass of punch, Napoleon went to rest before the serious business which, he considered, awaited him next day. He was so much interested in that task that he was unable to sleep, and in spite of his cold which had grown worse from the dampness of the evening, he went into the large division of the tent at three oclock in the morning, loudly blowing his nose. He asked whether the Russians had not withdrawn, and was told that the enemys fires were still in the same places. He nodded approval. The adjutant in attendance came into the tent. "Well, Rapp, do you think we shall do good business today?" Napoleon asked him. "Without doubt, sire," replied Rapp. Napoleon looked at him. "Do you remember, sire, what you did me the honor to say at Smolensk?" continued Rapp. "The wine is drawn and must be drunk." Napoleon frowned and sat silent for a long time leaning his head on his hand. "This poor army!" he suddenly remarked. "It has diminished greatly since Smolensk. Fortune is frankly a courtesan, Rapp. I have always said so and I am beginning to experience it. But the Guards, Rapp, the Guards are intact?" he remarked interrogatively. "Yes, sire," replied Rapp. Napoleon took a lozenge, put it in his mouth, and glanced at his watch. He was not sleepy and it was still not nearly morning. It was impossible to give further orders for the sake of killing time, for the orders had all been given and were now being executed. "Have the biscuits and rice been served out to the regiments of the Guards?" asked Napoleon sternly. "Yes, sire." "The rice too?" Rapp replied that he had given the Emperors order about the rice, but Napoleon shook his head in dissatisfaction as if not believing that his order had been executed. An attendant came in with punch. Napoleon ordered another glass to be brought for Rapp, and silently sipped his own. "I have neither taste nor smell," he remarked, sniffing at his glass. "This cold is tiresome. They talk about medicine--what is the good of medicine when it cant cure a cold! Corvisart gave me these lozenges but they dont help at all. What can doctors cure? One cant cure anything. Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself, it will do more than if you paralyze it by encumbering it with remedies. Our body is like a perfect watch that should go for a certain time; the watchmaker cannot open it, he can only adjust it by fumbling, and that blindfold.... Yes, our body is just a machine for living, that is all." And having entered on the path of definition, of which he was fond, Napoleon suddenly and unexpectedly gave a new one. "Do you know, Rapp, what military art is?" asked he. "It is the art of being stronger than the enemy at a given moment. Thats all." Rapp made no reply. "Tomorrow we shall have to deal with Kutuzov!" said Napoleon. "We shall see! Do you remember at Braunau he commanded an army for three weeks and did not once mount a horse to inspect his entrenchments.... We shall see!" He looked at his watch. It was still only four oclock. He did not feel sleepy. The punch was finished and there was still nothing to do. He rose, walked to and fro, put on a warm overcoat and a hat, and went out of the tent. The night was dark and damp, a scarcely perceptible moisture was descending from above. Near by, the campfires were dimly burning among the French Guards, and in the distance those of the Russian line shone through the smoke. The weather was calm, and the rustle and tramp of the French troops already beginning to move to take up their positions were clearly audible. Napoleon walked about in front of his tent, looked at the fires and listened to these sounds, and as he was passing a tall guardsman in a shaggy cap, who was standing sentinel before his tent and had drawn himself up like a black pillar at sight of the Emperor, Napoleon stopped in front of him. "What year did you enter the service?"

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