BOOK THREE: 1805
17. CHAPTER XVII
On our right flank commanded by Bagration, at nine o'clock the
battle had not yet begun. Not wishing to agree to Dolgorukov's
demand to commence the action, and wishing to avert responsibility
from himself, Prince Bagration proposed to Dolgorukov to send to
inquire of the commander in chief. Bagration knew that as the distance
between the two flanks was more than six miles, even if the
messenger were not killed (which he very likely would be), and found
the commander in chief (which would be very difficult), he would not
be able to get back before evening.
Bagration cast his large, expressionless, sleepy eyes round his
suite, and the boyish face Rostov, breathless with excitement and
hope, was the first to catch his eye. He sent him.
"And if I should meet His Majesty before I meet the commander in
chief, your excellency?" said Rostov, with his hand to his cap.
"You can give the message to His Majesty," said Dolgorukov,
hurriedly interrupting Bagration.
On being relieved from picket duty Rostov had managed to get a few
hours' sleep before morning and felt cheerful, bold, and resolute,
with elasticity of movement, faith in his good fortune, and
generally in that state of mind which makes everything seem
possible, pleasant, and easy.
All his wishes were being fulfilled that morning: there was to be
a general engagement in which he was taking part, more than that, he
was orderly to the bravest general, and still more, he was going
with a message to Kutuzov, perhaps even to the sovereign himself.
The morning was bright, he had a good horse under him, and his heart
was full of joy and happiness. On receiving the order he gave his
horse the rein and galloped along the line. At first he rode along the
line of Bagration's troops, which had not yet advanced into action but
were standing motionless; then he came to the region occupied by
Uvarov's cavalry and here he noticed a stir and signs of preparation
for battle; having passed Uvarov's cavalry he clearly heard the
sound of cannon and musketry ahead of him. The firing grew louder