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War And Peace 68

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War And Peace

carriage passed the company, a blue-eyed soldier involuntarily attracted notice. It was Dolokhov marching with particular grace and boldness in time to the song and looking at those driving past as if he pitied all who were not at that moment marching with the company. The hussar cornet of Kutuzovs suite who had mimicked the regimental commander, fell back from the carriage and rode up to Dolokhov. Hussar cornet Zherkov had at one time, in Petersburg, belonged to the wild set led by Dolokhov. Zherkov had met Dolokhov abroad as a private and had not seen fit to recognize him. But now that Kutuzov had spoken to the gentleman ranker, he addressed him with the cordiality of an old friend. "My dear fellow, how are you?" said he through the singing, making his horse keep pace with the company. "How am I?" Dolokhov answered coldly. "I am as you see." The lively song gave a special flavor to the tone of free and easy gaiety with which Zherkov spoke, and to the intentional coldness of Dolokhovs reply. "And how do you get on with the officers?" inquired Zherkov. "All right. They are good fellows. And how have you wriggled onto the staff?" "I was attached; Im on duty." Both were silent. "She let the hawk fly upward from her wide right sleeve," went the song, arousing an involuntary sensation of courage and cheerfulness. Their conversation would probably have been different but for the effect of that song. "Is it true that Austrians have been beaten?" asked Dolokhov. "The devil only knows! They say so." "Im glad," answered Dolokhov briefly and clearly, as the song demanded. "I say, come round some evening and well have a game of faro!" said Zherkov. "Why, have you too much money?" "Do come." "I cant. Ive sworn not to. I wont drink and wont play till I get reinstated." "Well, thats only till the first engagement." "We shall see." They were again silent. "Come if you need anything. One can at least be of use on the staff..." Dolokhov smiled. "Dont trouble. If I want anything, I wont beg--Ill take it!" "Well, never mind; I only..." "And I only..." "Good-by." "Good health..." "Its a long, long way. To my native land..." Zherkov touched his horse with the spurs; it pranced excitedly from foot to foot uncertain with which to start, then settled down, galloped past the company, and overtook the carriage, still keeping time to the song. CHAPTER III On returning from the review, Kutuzov took the Austrian general into his private room and, calling his adjutant, asked for some papers relating to the condition of the troops on their arrival, and the letters that had come from the Archduke Ferdinand, who was in command of the advanced army. Prince Andrew Bolkonski came into the room with the required papers. Kutuzov and the Austrian member of the Hofkriegsrath were sitting at the table on which a plan was spread out. "Ah!..." said Kutuzov glancing at Bolkonski as if by this exclamation he was asking the adjutant to wait, and he went on with the conversation in French. "All I can say, General," said he with a pleasant elegance of expression and intonation that obliged one to listen to each deliberately spoken word. It was evident that Kutuzov himself listened with pleasure to his own voice. "All I can say, General, is that if the matter depended on my personal wishes, the will of His Majesty the Emperor Francis would have been fulfilled long ago. I should long ago have joined the archduke. And believe me on my honour that to me personally it would be a pleasure to hand over the supreme command of the army into the hands of a better informed and more skillful general--of whom Austria has so many--and to lay down all this heavy responsibility. But circumstances are sometimes too strong for us, General." And Kutuzov smiled in a way that seemed to say, "You are quite at liberty not to believe me and I dont even care whether you do or not, but you have no grounds for telling me so. And that is the whole point." The Austrian general looked dissatisfied, but had no option but to reply in the same tone. "On the contrary," he said, in a querulous and angry tone that contrasted with his flattering words, "on the contrary, your excellencys participation in the common action is highly valued by His Majesty; but we think the present delay is depriving the splendid Russian troops and their commander of the laurels they have been accustomed to win in their battles,"

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