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War And Peace 497


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wish and by the will of the people, he had been chosen commander in chief. He was convinced that he alone could maintain command of the army in these difficult circumstances, and that in all the world he alone could encounter the invincible Napoleon without fear, and he was horrified at the thought of the order he had to issue. But something had to be decided, and these conversations around him which were assuming too free a character must be stopped. He called the most important generals to him. "My head, be it good or bad, must depend on itself," said he, rising from the bench, and he rode to Fili where his carriages were waiting. CHAPTER IV The Council of War began to assemble at two in the afternoon in the better and roomier part of Andrew Savostyanovs hut. The men, women, and children of the large peasant family crowded into the back room across the passage. Only Malasha, Andrews six-year-old granddaughter whom his Serene Highness had petted and to whom he had given a lump of sugar while drinking his tea, remained on the top of the brick oven in the larger room. Malasha looked down from the oven with shy delight at the faces, uniforms, and decorations of the generals, who one after another came into the room and sat down on the broad benches in the corner under the icons. "Granddad" himself, as Malasha in her own mind called Kutuzov, sat apart in a dark corner behind the oven. He sat, sunk deep in a folding armchair, and continually cleared his throat and pulled at the collar of his coat which, though it was unbuttoned, still seemed to pinch his neck. Those who entered went up one by one to the field marshal; he pressed the hands of some and nodded to others. His adjutant Kaysarov was about to draw back the curtain of the window facing Kutuzov, but the latter moved his hand angrily and Kaysarov understood that his Serene Highness did not wish his face to be seen. Round the peasants deal table, on which lay maps, plans, pencils, and papers, so many people gathered that the orderlies brought in another bench and put it beside the table. Ermolov, Kaysarov, and Toll, who had just arrived, sat down on this bench. In the foremost place, immediately under the icons, sat Barclay de Tolly, his high forehead merging into his bald crown. He had a St. Georges Cross round his neck and looked pale and ill. He had been feverish for two days and was now shivering and in pain. Beside him sat Uvarov, who with rapid gesticulations was giving him some information, speaking in low tones as they all did. Chubby little Dokhturov was listening attentively with eyebrows raised and arms folded on his stomach. On the other side sat Count Ostermann-Tolstoy, seemingly absorbed in his own thoughts. His broad head with its bold features and glittering eyes was resting on his hand. Raevski, twitching forward the black hair on his temples as was his habit, glanced now at Kutuzov and now at the door with a look of impatience. Konovnitsyns firm, handsome, and kindly face was lit up by a tender, sly smile. His glance met Malashas, and the expression of his eyes caused the little girl to smile. They were all waiting for Bennigsen, who on the pretext of inspecting the position was finishing his savory dinner. They waited for him from four till six oclock and did not begin their deliberations all that time but talked in low tones of other matters. Only when Bennigsen had entered the hut did Kutuzov leave his corner and draw toward the table, but not near enough for the candles that had been placed there to light up his face. Bennigsen opened the council with the question: "Are we to abandon Russias ancient and sacred capital without a struggle, or are we to defend it?" A prolonged and general silence followed. There was a frown on every face and only Kutuzovs angry grunts and occasional cough broke the silence. All eyes were gazing at him. Malasha too looked at "Granddad." She was nearest to him and saw how his face puckered; he seemed about to cry, but this did not last long. "Russias ancient and sacred capital!" he suddenly said, repeating Bennigsens words in an angry voice and thereby drawing attention to the false note in them. "Allow me to tell you, your excellency, that that question has no meaning for a Russian." (He lurched his heavy body forward.) "Such a question cannot

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