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War And Peace 595


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do the opposite," replied Bennigsen. The Cossacks report, confirmed by horse patrols who were sent out, was the final proof that events had matured. The tightly coiled spring was released, the clock began to whirr and the chimes to play. Despite all his supposed power, his intellect, his experience, and his knowledge of men, Kutuzov--having taken into consideration the Cossacks report, a note from Bennigsen who sent personal reports to the Emperor, the wishes he supposed the Emperor to hold, and the fact that all the generals expressed the same wish--could no longer check the inevitable movement, and gave the order to do what he regarded as useless and harmful--gave his approval, that is, to the accomplished fact. CHAPTER IV Bennigsens note and the Cossacks information that the left flank of the French was unguarded were merely final indications that it was necessary to order an attack, and it was fixed for the fifth of October. On the morning of the fourth of October Kutuzov signed the dispositions. Toll read them to Ermolov, asking him to attend to the further arrangements. "All right--all right. I havent time just now," replied Ermolov, and left the hut. The dispositions drawn up by Toll were very good. As in the Austerlitz dispositions, it was written--though not in German this time: "The First Column will march here and here," "the Second Column will march there and there," and so on; and on paper, all these columns arrived at their places at the appointed time and destroyed the enemy. Everything had been admirably thought out as is usual in dispositions, and as is always the case, not a single column reached its place at the appointed time. When the necessary number of copies of the dispositions had been prepared, an officer was summoned and sent to deliver them to Ermolov to deal with. A young officer of the Horse Guards, Kutuzovs orderly, pleased at the importance of the mission entrusted to him, went to Ermolovs quarters. "Gone away," said Ermolovs orderly. The officer of the Horse Guards went to a general with whom Ermolov was often to be found. "No, and the generals out too." The officer, mounting his horse, rode off to someone else. "No, hes gone out." "If only they dont make me responsible for this delay! What a nuisance it is!" thought the officer, and he rode round the whole camp. One man said he had seen Ermolov ride past with some other generals, others said he must have returned home. The officer searched till six oclock in the evening without even stopping to eat. Ermolov was nowhere to be found and no one knew where he was. The officer snatched a little food at a comrades, and rode again to the vanguard to find Miloradovich. Miloradovich too was away, but here he was told that he had gone to a ball at General Kikins and that Ermolov was probably there too. "But where is it?" "Why, there, over at Echkino," said a Cossack officer, pointing to a country house in the far distance. "What, outside our line?" "Theyve put two regiments as outposts, and theyre having such a spree there, its awful! Two bands and three sets of singers!" The officer rode out beyond our lines to Echkino. While still at a distance he heard as he rode the merry sounds of a soldiers dance song proceeding from the house. "In the meadows... in the meadows!" he heard, accompanied by whistling and the sound of a torban, drowned every now and then by shouts. These sounds made his spirits rise, but at the same time he was afraid that he would be blamed for not having executed sooner the important order entrusted to him. It was already past eight oclock. He dismounted and went up into the porch of a large country house which had remained intact between the Russian and French forces. In the refreshment room and the hall, footmen were bustling about with wine and viands. Groups of singers stood outside the windows. The officer was admitted and immediately saw all the chief generals of the army together, and among them Ermolovs big imposing figure. They all had their coats unbuttoned and were standing in a semicircle with flushed and animated faces, laughing loudly. In the middle of the room a short handsome general with a red face was dancing the trepak with much spirit and agility. "Ha, ha, ha! Bravo, Nicholas Ivanych! Ha, ha, ha!" The officer felt that by arriving with important orders at such a moment he was doubly to blame, and he would have preferred to wait; but one of the generals espied him

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