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War And Peace 612

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War And Peace

does not understand the workings of a machine to imagine that a shaving that has fallen into it by chance and is interfering with its action and tossing about in it is its most important part. The man who does not understand the construction of the machine cannot conceive that the small connecting cogwheel which revolves quietly is one of the most essential parts of the machine, and not the shaving which merely harms and hinders the working. On the tenth of October when Dokhturov had gone halfway to Forminsk and stopped at the village of Aristovo, preparing faithfully to execute the orders he had received, the whole French army having, in its convulsive movement, reached Murats position apparently in order to give battle--suddenly without any reason turned off to the left onto the new Kaluga road and began to enter Forminsk, where only Broussier had been till then. At that time Dokhturov had under his command, besides Dorokhovs detachment, the two small guerrilla detachments of Figner and Seslavin. On the evening of October 11 Seslavin came to the Aristovo headquarters with a French guardsman he had captured. The prisoner said that the troops that had entered Forminsk that day were the vanguard of the whole army, that Napoleon was there and the whole army had left Moscow four days previously. That same evening a house serf who had come from Borovsk said he had seen an immense army entering the town. Some Cossacks of Dokhturovs detachment reported having sighted the French Guards marching along the road to Borovsk. From all these reports it was evident that where they had expected to meet a single division there was now the whole French army marching from Moscow in an unexpected direction--along the Kaluga road. Dokhturov was unwilling to undertake any action, as it was not clear to him now what he ought to do. He had been ordered to attack Forminsk. But only Broussier had been there at that time and now the whole French army was there. Ermolov wished to act on his own judgment, but Dokhturov insisted that he must have Kutuzovs instructions. So it was decided to send a dispatch to the staff. For this purpose a capable officer, Bolkhovitinov, was chosen, who was to explain the whole affair by word of mouth, besides delivering a written report. Toward midnight Bolkhovitinov, having received the dispatch and verbal instructions, galloped off to the General Staff accompanied by a Cossack with spare horses. CHAPTER XVI It was a warm, dark, autumn night. It had been raining for four days. Having changed horses twice and galloped twenty miles in an hour and a half over a sticky, muddy road, Bolkhovitinov reached Litashevka after one oclock at night. Dismounting at a cottage on whose wattle fence hung a signboard, GENERAL STAFF, and throwing down his reins, he entered a dark passage. "The general on duty, quick! Its very important!" said he to someone who had risen and was sniffing in the dark passage. "He has been very unwell since the evening and this is the third night he has not slept," said the orderly pleadingly in a whisper. "You should wake the captain first." "But this is very important, from General Dokhturov," said Bolkhovitinov, entering the open door which he had found by feeling in the dark. The orderly had gone in before him and began waking somebody. "Your honor, your honor! A courier." "What? Whats that? From whom?" came a sleepy voice. "From Dokhturov and from Alexey Petrovich. Napoleon is at Forminsk," said Bolkhovitinov, unable to see in the dark who was speaking but guessing by the voice that it was not Konovnitsyn. The man who had wakened yawned and stretched himself. "I dont like waking him," he said, fumbling for something. "He is very ill. Perhaps this is only a rumor." "Here is the dispatch," said Bolkhovitinov. "My orders are to give it at once to the general on duty." "Wait a moment, Ill light a candle. You damned rascal, where do you always hide it?" said the voice of the man who was stretching himself, to the orderly. (This was Shcherbinin, Konovnitsyns adjutant.) "Ive found it, Ive found it!" he added. The orderly was striking a light and Shcherbinin was fumbling for something on the candlestick. "Oh, the nasty beasts!" said he with disgust. By the light of the sparks Bolkhovitinov saw Shcherbinins youthful face as he held the candle, and the face of another man who was still asleep. This was Konovnitsyn. When the flame of the sulphur splinters kindled by the tinder burned up, first blue and then red, Shcherbinin lit the

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