BOOK THREE: 1805
18. CHAPTER XVIII
Rostov had been ordered to look for Kutuzov and the Emperor near the
village of Pratzen. But neither they nor a single commanding officer
were there, only disorganized crowds of troops of various kinds. He
urged on his already weary horse to get quickly past these crowds, but
the farther he went the more disorganized they were. The highroad on
which he had come out was thronged with caleches, carriages of all
sorts, and Russian and Austrian soldiers of all arms, some wounded and
some not. This whole mass droned and jostled in confusion under the
dismal influence of cannon balls flying from the French batteries
stationed on the Pratzen Heights.
"Where is the Emperor? Where is Kutuzov?" Rostov kept asking
everyone he could stop, but got no answer from anyone.
At last seizing a soldier by his collar he forced him to answer.
"Eh, brother! They've all bolted long ago!" said the soldier,
laughing for some reason and shaking himself free.
Having left that soldier who was evidently drunk, Rostov stopped the
horse of a batman or groom of some important personage and began to
question him. The man announced that the Tsar had been driven in a
carriage at full speed about an hour before along that very road and
that he was dangerously wounded.
"It can't be!" said Rostov. "It must have been someone else."
"I saw him myself." replied the man with a self-confident smile of
derision. "I ought to know the Emperor by now, after the times I've
seen him in Petersburg. I saw him just as I see you.... There he sat
in the carriage as pale as anything. How they made the four black
horses fly! Gracious me, they did rattle past! It's time I knew the
Imperial horses and Ilya Ivanych. I don't think Ilya drives anyone
except the Tsar!"
Rostov let go of the horse and was about to ride on, when a
wounded officer passing by addressed him:
"Who is it you want?" he asked. "The commander in chief? He was
killed by a cannon ball- struck in the breast before our regiment."