BOOK THIRTEEN: 1812
17. CHAPTER XVII
Kutuzov like all old people did not sleep much at night. He often
fell asleep unexpectedly in the daytime, but at night, lying on his
bed without undressing, he generally remained awake thinking.
So he lay now on his bed, supporting his large, heavy, scarred
head on his plump hand, with his one eye open, meditating and
peering into the darkness.
Since Bennigsen, who corresponded with the Emperor and had more
influence than anyone else on the staff, had begun to avoid him,
Kutuzov was more at ease as to the possibility of himself and his
troops being obliged to take part in useless aggressive movements. The
lesson of the Tarutino battle and of the day before it, which
Kutuzov remembered with pain, must, he thought, have some effect on
"They must understand that we can only lose by taking the offensive.
Patience and time are my warriors, my champions," thought Kutuzov.
He knew that an apple should not be plucked while it is green. It will
fall of itself when ripe, but if picked unripe the apple is spoiled,
the tree is harmed, and your teeth are set on edge. Like an
experienced sportsman he knew that the beast was wounded, and
wounded as only the whole strength of Russia could have wounded it,
but whether it was mortally wounded or not was still an undecided
question. Now by the fact of Lauriston and Barthelemi having been
sent, and by the reports of the guerrillas, Kutuzov was almost sure
that the wound was mortal. But he needed further proofs and it was
necessary to wait.
"They want to run to see how they have wounded it. Wait and we shall
see! Continual maneuvers, continual advances!" thought he. "What
for? Only to distinguish themselves! As if fighting were fun. They are
like children from whom one can't get any sensible account of what has
happened because they all want to show how well they can fight. But
that's not what is needed now.
"And what ingenious maneuvers they all propose to me! It seems to
them that when they have thought of two or three contingencies" (he
remembered the general plan sent him from Petersburg) "they have
foreseen everything. But the contingencies are endless."