War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXI


Author: Leo Tolstoy

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


Posted on 2007-05-10, updated at 2007-05-27. By anonymous.

Description

  • Author: Leo Tolstoy

PIERRE got out of his carriage, and passing by the toiling peasants,

clambered up the knoll from which the doctor had told him he could get a view of

the field of battle.



It was eleven o'clock in the morning. The sun was a little on the left, and

behind Pierre, and in the pure, clear air, the huge panorama that stretched in

an amphitheatre before him from the rising ground lay bathed in brilliant

sunshine.



The Smolensk high-road ran winding through that amphitheatre, intersecting it

towards the left at the top, and passing through a village with a white church,

which lay some five hundred paces before and below the knoll. This was Borodino.

The road passed below the village, crossed a bridge, and ran winding uphill and

downhill, mounting up and up to the hamlet of Valuev, visible six versts away,

where Napoleon now was. Behind Valuev the road disappeared into a copse turning

yellow on the horizon. In this copse of birch- and pine-trees, on the right of

the road, could be seen far away the shining cross and belfry of the Kolotsky

monastery. Here and there in the blue distance, to right and to left of the

copse and the road, could be seen smoking camp-fires and indistinct masses of

our troops and the enemy's. On the right, along the course of the rivers

Kolotcha and Moskva, the country was broken and hilly. Through the gaps between

the hills could be seen the villages of Bezzubovo and Zaharino. On the left the

ground was more level; there were fields of corn and a smoking village that had

been set on fire—Semyonovskoye.



Everything Pierre saw was so indefinite, that in no part of the scene before

him could he find anything fully corresponding to his preconceptions. There was

nowhere a field of battle such as he had expected to see, nothing but fields,

dells, troops, woods, camp-fires, villages, mounds, and streams. With all

Pierre's efforts, he could not discover in the living landscape a military

position. He could not even distinguish between our troops and the

enemy's.



“I must ask some one who understands it,” he thought, and he addressed the

officer, who was looking with curiosity at his huge, unmilitary figure.



“Allow me to ask,” Pierre said, “what village is that before us?”



“Burdino, isn't it called?” said the officer, turning inquiringly to his

comrade.



“Borodino,” the other corrected.



The officer, obviously pleased at an opportunity for conversation, went

nearer to Pierre.



“Are these our men there?” asked Pierre.



“Yes, and away further, those are the French,” said the officer. “There they

are, there you can see them.”



“Where? where?” asked Pierre.



“One can see them with the naked eye. Look!” The officer pointed to smoke

rising on the left beyond the river, and the same stern and grave expression

came into his face that Pierre had noticed in many of the faces he had

met.



“Ah, that's the French! And there? …” Pierre pointed to a knoll on the left

about which troops could be seen.



“Those are our men.”



“Oh, indeed! And there? …” Pierre pointed to another mound in the distance,

with a big tree on it, near a village that could be seen in a gap between the

hills, where there was a dark patch and the smoke of campfires.



“Ah! that's he again!” said the officer. (It was the redoubt of

Shevardino.) “Yesterday that was ours, but now it's his.”



“So what is our position, then?”



“Our position?” said the officer, with a smile of satisfaction. “I can

describe it very clearly, because I have had to do with the making of almost all

our fortifications. There, our centre, do you see, is here at Borodino.” He

pointed to the village with the white church, in front of them. “There's the

ford across the Kolotcha. Here, do you see, where the rows of mown hay are still

lying in the low ground, there's the bridge. That's our centre. Our right flank

is away yonder” (he pointed to the right, far away to the hollows among the

hills), “there is the river Moskva, and there we have thrown up three very

strong redoubts. The left flank …” there the officer paused. “It's hard to

explain, you see. … Yesterday our left flank was over there, at Shevardino, do

you see, where the oak is. But now we have drawn back our left wing, now it's

over there,—you see the village and the smoke—that's Semyonovskoye, and

here—look,” he pointed to Raevsky's redoubt. “Only the battle won't be there,

most likely. He has moved his troops here, but that's a blind; he

will probably try to get round on the right. Well, but however it may be,

there'll be a lot of men missing at roll-call to-morrow!” said the

officer.



The old sergeant, who came up during the officer's speech, had waited in

silence for his superior officer to finish speaking. But at this point he

interrupted him in undisguised annoyance at his last words.



“We have to send for gabions,” he said severely.



The officer seemed abashed, as though he were fully aware that though he

might think how many men would be missing next day, he ought not to talk about

it.



“Well, send the third company again,” he said hurriedly. “And who are you,

not one of the doctors?”



“No, I am nothing in particular,” answered Pierre. And he went downhill

again, passing the peasant militiamen.



“Ah, the damned beasts!” said the officer, pinching his nose, and hurrying by

them with Pierre.



“Here they come! … They are bringing her, they are coming. … Here she is …

they'll be here in a minute,” cried voices suddenly, and officers, soldiers, and

peasants ran forward along the road.



A church procession was coming up the hill from Borodino. In front of it a

regiment of infantry marched smartly along the dusty road, with their shakoes

off and their muskets lowered. Behind the infantry came the sounds of church

singing.



Soldiers and peasants came running down bareheaded to meet it, overtaking

Pierre.



“They are bringing the Holy Mother! Our defender … the Holy Mother of

Iversky! …”



“The Holy Mother of Smolensk …” another corrected.



The militiamen who had been in the village and those who had been working at

the battery, flinging down their spades, ran to meet the procession. The

battalion marching along the dusty road was followed by priests in church robes,

a little old man in a hood with attendant deacons and choristers. Behind them

came soldiers and officers bearing a huge holy picture, with tarnished face in a

setting of silver. This was the holy ikon that had been brought away from

Smolensk, and had accompanied the army ever since. Behind, before, and all

around it, walked or ran crowds of soldiers with bared heads, bowing to the

earth.



On the top of the hill the procession stopped; the men bearing the holy

picture on a linen cloth were relieved by others; the deacons relighted their

censers, and the service began. The burning rays of the sun beat vertically down

on the crowds; a faint, fresh breeze played with the hair of their bare heads,

and fluttered the ribbons with which the holy picture was decked; the singing

sounded subdued under the open sky. An immense crowd—officers, soldiers, and

militiamen—stood round, all with bare heads. In a space apart, behind the

priests and deacons, stood the persons of higher rank. A bald general, with the

order of St. George on his neck, stood directly behind the priest. He was

unmistakably a German, for he stood, not crossing himself, patiently waiting for

the end of the service, to which he thought it right to listen, probably as a

means of arousing the patriotism of the Russian peasantry; another general stood

in a martial pose and swung his arm before his chest, looking about him as he

made the sign of the cross. Pierre, standing among the peasants, recognised in

this group of higher rank several persons he knew. But he did not look at them;

his whole attention was engrossed by the serious expression of the faces in the

crowd, soldiers and peasants alike, all gazing with the same eagerness at the

holy picture. As soon as the weary choristers (it was their twentieth service)

began languidly singing their habitual chant, “O Mother of God, save Thy

servants from calamity,” and priest and deacon chimed in, “For to Thee we all

fly as our invincible Bulwark and Protectress,” there was a gleam on every face

of that sense of the solemnity of the coming moment, which he had seen on the

hill at Mozhaisk and by glimpses in so many of the faces meeting him that

morning. And heads were bowed lower, while locks of hair fluttered in the

breeze, and there was the sound of sighing and beating the breast as the

soldiers crossed themselves.



The crowd suddenly parted and pressed upon Pierre. Some one, probably a very

great person, judging by the promptitude with which they made way for him, was

approaching the holy picture.



It was Kutuzov, who had been making the round of the position. On his way

back to Tatarinovo, he joined the service. Pierre at once recognised him from

his peculiar figure, which marked him out at once.



In a long military coat, with his enormously stout figure and bent back, with

his white head uncovered, and his blind white eye, conspicuous in his puffy

face, Kutuzov walked with his waddling swaying gait into the ring and stood

behind the priest. He crossed himself with an habitual gesture, bent down, with

his hand touching the earth, and, sighing heavily, bowed his grey head. Kutuzov

was followed by Bennigsen and his suite. In spite of the presence of the

commander-in-chief, which drew the attention of all persons of higher rank, the

militiamen and soldiers went on praying without looking at him.



When the service was over, Kutuzov went up to the holy picture, dropped

heavily down on his knees, bowing to the earth, and for a long time he attempted

to get up, and was unable from his weakness and heavy weight. His grey head

twitched with the strain. At last he did get up, and putting out his lips in a

na


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More on This Book:
  1. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXVI
  2. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXV
  3. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXIV
  4. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXIII
  5. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXII
  6. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXI
  7. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXX
  8. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXVIII
  9. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXIX
  10. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXVII
  11. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXVI
  12. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXIV
  13. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXV
  14. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXII
  15. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXIII
  16. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XX
  17. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XVIII
  18. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XIX
  19. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XVII
  20. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XVI
  21. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XV
  22. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XIV
  23. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XIII
  24. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XII
  25. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XI
  26. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER X
  27. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER IX
  28. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER VIII
  29. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER VII
  30. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER VI
  31. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER V
  32. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER IV
  33. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER III
  34. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER II
  35. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER I
  36. War And Peace: Book 10 - CHAPTER XXXIX
  37. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXXIV
  38. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXXIII
  39. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXXII
  40. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXXI
  41. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXX
  42. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXIX
  43. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXVIII
  44. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXVII
  45. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXVI
  46. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXV
  47. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXIV
  48. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXIII
  49. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXII
  50. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XXI
  51. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XX
  52. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XIX
  53. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XVIII
  54. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XVII
  55. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XVI
  56. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XV
  57. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XIV
  58. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XIII
  59. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XII
  60. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER XI
  61. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER X
  62. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER IX
  63. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER VIII
  64. War And Peace: Book 11 - CHAPTER VII

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