Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
be put; it is senseless! The
question I have asked these gentlemen to meet to discuss is a military
one. The question is that of saving Russia. Is it better to give up
Moscow without a battle, or by accepting battle to risk losing the
army as well as Moscow? That is the question on which I want your
opinion," and he sank back in his chair.
The discussion began. Bennigsen did not yet consider his game
lost. Admitting the view of Barclay and others that a defensive battle
at Fili was impossible, but imbued with Russian patriotism and the
love of Moscow, he proposed to move troops from the right to the
left flank during the night and attack the French right flank the
following day. Opinions were divided, and arguments were advanced
for and against that project. Ermolov, Dokhturov, and Raevski agreed
with Bennigsen. Whether feeling it necessary to make a sacrifice
before abandoning the capital or guided by other, personal
considerations, these generals seemed not to understand that this
council could not alter the inevitable course of events and that
Moscow was in effect already abandoned. The other generals, however,
understood it and, leaving aside the question of Moscow, spoke of the
direction the army should take in its retreat. Malasha, who kept her
eyes fixed on what was going on before her, understood the meaning
of the council differently. It seemed to her that it was only a
personal struggle between "Granddad" and "Long-coat" as she termed
Bennigsen. She saw that they grew spiteful when they spoke to one
another, and in her heart she sided with "Granddad." In the midst of
the conversation she noticed "Granddad" give Bennigsen a quick, subtle
glance, and then to her joys he saw that "Granddad" said something
to "Long-coat" which settled him. Bennigsen suddenly reddened and
paced angrily up and down the room. What so affected him was Kutuzovs
calm and quiet comment on the advantage or disadvantage of Bennigsens
proposal to move troops by night from the right to the left flank to
attack the French right wing.
"Gentlemen," said Kutuzov, "I cannot approve of the counts plan.
Moving troops in close proximity to an enemy is always dangerous,
and military history supports that view. For instance..." Kutuzov
seemed to reflect, searching for an example, then with a clear,
naive look at Bennigsen he added: "Oh yes; take the battle of
Friedland, which I think the count well remembers, and which was...
not fully successful, only because our troops were rearranged too near
There followed a momentary pause, which seemed very long to them
The discussion recommenced, but pauses frequently occurred and
they all felt that there was no more to be said.
During one of these pauses Kutuzov heaved a deep sigh as if
preparing to speak. They all looked at him.
"Well, gentlemen, I see that it is I who will have to pay for the
broken crockery," said he, and rising slowly he moved to the table.
"Gentlemen, I have heard your views. Some of you will not agree with
me. But I," he paused, "by the authority entrusted to me by my
Sovereign and country, order a retreat."
After that the generals began to disperse with the solemnity and
circumspect silence of people who are leaving, after a funeral.
Some of the generals, in low tones and in a strain very different
from the way they had spoken during the council, communicated
something to their commander in chief.
Malasha, who had long been expected for supper, climbed carefully
backwards down from the oven, her bare little feet catching at its
projections, and slipping between the legs of the generals she
darted out of the room.
When he had dismissed the generals Kutuzov sat a long time with
his elbows on the table, thinking always of the same terrible
question: "When, when did the abandonment of Moscow become inevitable?
When was that done which settled the matter? And who was to blame
"I did not expect this," said he to his adjutant Schneider when
the latter came in late that night. "I did not expect this! I did
not think this would happen."
"You should take some rest, your Serene Highness," replied
"But no! They shall eat horseflesh yet, like the Turks!" exclaimed
Kutuzov without replying, striking the table with his podgy fist.
"They shall too, if only..."
At that very time, in circumstances even more important than
retreating without a battle, namely the evacuation and burning of
Moscow, Rostopchin, who is usually represented as being the instigator
of that event, acted in an
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