Dolgorukov was still insisting that the French had retreated and had only lit fires to deceive us.
"What does that prove?" he was saying as Rostov rode up."They might retreat and leave the pickets."
"It's plain that they have not all gone yet, Prince," said Bagration."Wait till tomorrow morning, we'll find out everything tomorrow."
"The picket is still on the hill, your excellency, just where it was in the evening," reported Rostov, stooping forward with his hand at the salute and unable to repress the smile of delight induced by his ride and especially by the sound of the bullets.
"Very good, very good," said Bagration."Thank you, officer."
"Your excellency," said Rostov,"may I ask a favor?"
"What is it?"
"Tomorrow our squadron is to be in reserve. May I ask to be attached to the first squadron?"
"What's your name?"
"Oh, very well, you may stay in attendance on me."
"Count Ilya Rostov's son?" asked Dolgorukov.
But Rostov did not reply.
"Then I may reckon on it, your excellency?"
"I will give the order."
"Tomorrow very likely I may be sent with some message to the Emperor," thought Rostov.
The fires and shouting in the enemy's army were occasioned by the fact that while Napoleon's proclamation was being read to the troops the Emperor himself rode round his bivouacs. The soldiers, on seeing him, lit wisps of straw and ran after him, shouting,"Vive l'Empereur!" Napoleon's proclamation was as follows:
Soldiers! The Russian army is advancing against you to avenge the Austrian army of Ulm. They are the same battalions you broke at Hollabrunn and have pursued ever since to this place. The position we occupy is a strong one, and while they are marching to go round me on the right they will expose a flank to me. Soldiers! I will myself direct your battalions. I will keep out of fire if you with your habitual valor carry disorder and confusion into the enemy's ranks, but should victory be in doubt, even for a moment, you will see your Emperor exposing himself to the first blows of the enemy, for there must be no doubt of victory, especially on this day when what is at stake is the honor of the French infantry, so necessary to the honor of our nation.
Do not break your ranks on the plea of removing the wounded! Let every man be fully imbued with the thought that we must defeat these hirelings of England, inspired by such hatred of our nation! This victory will conclude our campaign and we can return to winter quarters, where fresh French troops who are being raised in France will join us, and the peace I shall conclude will be worthy of my people, of you, and of myself.