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War And Peace 91

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War And Peace

stood among the Austrian officers as he had been told to, and the Emperor Francis merely looked fixedly into his face and just nodded to him with his long head. But after it was over, the adjutant he had seen the previous day ceremoniously informed Bolkonski that the Emperor desired to give him an audience. The Emperor Francis received him standing in the middle of the room. Before the conversation began Prince Andrew was struck by the fact that the Emperor seemed confused and blushed as if not knowing what to say. "Tell me, when did the battle begin?" he asked hurriedly. Prince Andrew replied. Then followed other questions just as simple: "Was Kutuzov well? When had he left Krems?" and so on. The Emperor spoke as if his sole aim were to put a given number of questions--the answers to these questions, as was only too evident, did not interest him. "At what oclock did the battle begin?" asked the Emperor. "I cannot inform Your Majesty at what oclock the battle began at the front, but at Durrenstein, where I was, our attack began after five in the afternoon," replied Bolkonski growing more animated and expecting that he would have a chance to give a reliable account, which he had ready in his mind, of all he knew and had seen. But the Emperor smiled and interrupted him. "How many miles?" "From where to where, Your Majesty?" "From Durrenstein to Krems." "Three and a half miles, Your Majesty." "The French have abandoned the left bank?" "According to the scouts the last of them crossed on rafts during the night." "Is there sufficient forage in Krems?" "Forage has not been supplied to the extent..." The Emperor interrupted him. "At what oclock was General Schmidt killed?" "At seven oclock, I believe." "At seven oclock? Its very sad, very sad!" The Emperor thanked Prince Andrew and bowed. Prince Andrew withdrew and was immediately surrounded by courtiers on all sides. Everywhere he saw friendly looks and heard friendly words. Yesterdays adjutant reproached him for not having stayed at the palace, and offered him his own house. The Minister of War came up and congratulated him on the Maria Theresa Order of the third grade, which the Emperor was conferring on him. The Empress chamberlain invited him to see Her Majesty. The archduchess also wished to see him. He did not know whom to answer, and for a few seconds collected his thoughts. Then the Russian ambassador took him by the shoulder, led him to the window, and began to talk to him. Contrary to Bilibins forecast the news he had brought was joyfully received. A thanksgiving service was arranged, Kutuzov was awarded the Grand Cross of Maria Theresa, and the whole army received rewards. Bolkonski was invited everywhere, and had to spend the whole morning calling on the principal Austrian dignitaries. Between four and five in the afternoon, having made all his calls, he was returning to Bilibins house thinking out a letter to his father about the battle and his visit to Brunn. At the door he found a vehicle half full of luggage. Franz, Bilibins man, was dragging a portmanteau with some difficulty out of the front door. Before returning to Bilibins Prince Andrew had gone to a bookshop to provide himself with some books for the campaign, and had spent some time in the shop. "What is it?" he asked. "Oh, your excellency!" said Franz, with difficulty rolling the portmanteau into the vehicle, "we are to move on still farther. The scoundrel is again at our heels!" "Eh? What?" asked Prince Andrew. Bilibin came out to meet him. His usually calm face showed excitement. "There now! Confess that this is delightful," said he. "This affair of the Thabor Bridge, at Vienna.... They have crossed without striking a blow!" Prince Andrew could not understand. "But where do you come from not to know what every coachman in the town knows?" "I come from the archduchess. I heard nothing there." "And you didnt see that everybody is packing up?" "I did not... What is it all about?" inquired Prince Andrew impatiently. "Whats it all about? Why, the French have crossed the bridge that Auersperg was defending, and the bridge was not blown up: so Murat is now rushing along the road to Brunn and will be here in a day or two." "What? Here? But why did they not blow up the bridge, if it was mined?" "That is what I ask you. No one, not even Bonaparte, knows why." Bolkonski shrugged his shoulders. "But if the bridge is crossed it means that the army too is lost? It will be cut off," said he. "Thats just it,"

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